Sarasota conservation group acquires 230 acres on Pine Island
As part of an ambitious project to help protect and preserve areas along the gulf coast, the Sarasota Conservation Foundation recently purchased property on Pine Island.
The land purchase, at a cost of $6.5 million with a grant from Florida Forever as well as private donations in the amount of $5.15 million, is the largest in the history of the non-profit organization. The site is located on Stringfellow Road.
According to Albert Joerger, founder and president of the Sarasota Conservation Foundation, plans are in the works to develop the site into a park which will include an elevated nature trail, a wildlife viewing platform, a canoe and kayak launch, a covered picnic pavilion, a lake with a shoreline path, a fishing pier, restrooms, open space for community festivities and events, a bike rack and parking.
“This property is spectacular and is a true piece of Old Florida,” said Joerger. “This area has nesting eagles and rare habitats, but also allows for great public access. This will offer great opportunities and amenities for Pine Islanders as it will help the economy by attracting nature-based tourism as well as prevent it from future development.”
Joerger also said that his foundation is hoping to purchase the property that is just south of the St. James City site and has approached county officials about the possibility of allowing island organizations to host fund-raisers and other events on the property.
“It is our hope that somewhere down the road we will be able to obtain the permitting to allow for developing parking and other amenities on the site for the use of the island residents,” he said. “Also, at this time, the Sarasota Conservation Foundation will be the stewards of the property but we are we are exploring the possibility that a group like the Calusa Land Trust will help us in the future as well.”
While awaiting permitting for the project from Lee County, the group also will need to raise an additional $2.4 million to complete the project. At this time, invasive plants are being removed from the site and planting of native species is under way.
The Sarasota Conservation Foundation works with landowners, businesses and government to protect and preserve the natural integrity of the bays, beaches and barrier islands on the gulf coast. The foundation purchases natural areas and is dedicated to educating the public with regard to responsible ownership of these lands. For more information about the Sarasota Conservation Foundation, visit sarasotaconservation.org or call 941-918-2100.