The Alachua Conservation Trust (ACT) recently purchased 84 acres of land adjacent to Orange Lake.
The property was acquired from the Sawallis Family and is located along US Highway 441. The new parcel is north of ACT’s existing 71-acre nature preserve, the Marjorie A. Hoy Memorial Park in McIntosh at the Orange Lake Overlook (OLO).
The new purchase doubles the size of the preserve and will include access to Orange Lake through conservation land owned by Marion County.
The Conservation Fund provided a $1 million bridge loan to ACT to purchase the original 71 acres while continuing to fundraise for the project.
The ACT re-opened the OLO in 2022 to the public as a nature preserve. The preserve was dedicated to internationally recognized entomologist and researcher Marjorie A. Hoy, whose work focused on Florida citrus pests. When Hoy died, her husband, Jim, donated $1 million to ACT in her honor. This donation was combined with more than 300 individual donations and a grants from the North American Wetlands Conservation Act program and Duke Energy, and allowed ACT to pay off the remaining loans and to install kiosks, picnic tables and trails before it opened the preserve to the public.
“We are very grateful to the community, our grant partners, donors, and the Sawallis Family for recognizing the importance of conserving this land,” said ACT executive director Tom Kay in a press release. “Continued conservation along the Orange Lake corridor not only provides the public with recreational opportunities, but also connects critical habitat for numerous species in an area of Florida that is experiencing rapid population growth and intense development pressure. Protecting special places like this would not happen without the collective support of individuals, businesses, agencies, and non-profits working together towards the common goal of conservation.”