County purchases 572 acres
Lee County purchased 572 acres Tuesday in the Buckingham Rural Community Preserve area. The land is located between Buckingham Road on the south and Gulf Coast Center on the north. This large tract of land has considerable diversity of plant communities; including scrub, palmetto prairie, herbaceous wetlands, cypress wetlands, pine flatwoods and oak hammock.
The county will eventually restore any disturbed areas to their natural state such as the regrading of excavated areas, removal of exotic plant infestations and replanting of native plants. The nature park will provide a sanctuary for wildlife and eventually be available to the public for nature based recreational activities; such as hiking, bird watching and nature study. The county will prepare a land stewardship plan with public input from the local community to decide what other public uses are both desirable and appropriate. Horseback riding opportunities will be one of the other public uses to be considered.
The acquisition was funded by the Conservation 20/20 Program. The owners wanted $34,320,000 for the property; but the Division of County Lands, the County Office which negotiates land purchases for the County, was able to acquire the property for $12,584,000.
The Conservation 20/20 program buys environmentally important lands for preservation. It’s funded by a property tax, which was approved by referendum in 1996. It is 50 cents for every $1,000 of taxable property value. With this purchase, the County’s Conservation 20/20 program has acquired 94 properties, and the land inventory now stands at 20,531 acres.