TALLAHASSEE – Governor Charlie Crist and the Florida Cabinet approved an option agreement today between the state of Florida and the Alachua Conservation Trust, Inc. to expand recreational opportunities and conserve precious natural resources. The 500 acres located southeast of Gainesville is a critical addition to the Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park and a deal the state has been looking to strike since the early 1970s.
“With Governor Crist’s and the Cabinet member’s signatures on this agreement we finalize an important project that will help promote nature-based tourism and be a beautiful area for Floridians and visitors to enjoy,” said DEP Secretary Michael W. Sole.
“Paynes Prairie is rich in natural resources and today’s agreement will help protect important wildlife habitat and at the same time enhance recreational opportunities.” Paynes Prairie stretches out across 21,000 acres and is a natural resource of national importance. In 1971, Paynes Prairie was designated a national landmark by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior because it possesses exceptional value in illustrating U.S. heritage and is one of only 600 designations nationwide. Paynes Prairie contains more than 800 plants and a large variety of wildlife including bison, cracker horses and more than 270 species of birds.
Since a significant portion of the Paynes Prairie basin is located on this property, it is important for Floridians to possess ownership. As part of the recreational planning process a trail hub to connect Prairie Creek Preserve to the east and Gainesville-Hawthorne State Trail is being explored. Acquiring the land will protect the amount and quality of water that feeds Paynes Prairie, help conserve wildlife habitat, increase recreational activities and provide better park management.
DEP is the state’s principal environmental agency, created to protect, conserve and manage Florida’s environment and natural resources. DEP enforces federal and state environmental laws, protects Florida’s air and water quality, cleans up pollution, regulates solid waste management, promotes pollution prevention and acquires environmentally-sensitive lands for preservation. The agency also maintains a statewide system of parks, trails and aquatic preserves. For more information about the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, visit www.dep.state.fl.us.
"With Governor Crist's and the Cabinet member’s signatures on this agreement we finalize an important project that will help promote nature-based tourism and be a beautiful area for Floridians and visitors to enjoy."
Michael W. Sole
Last updated: March 12, 2010