Alachua County Forever (ACF) recently closed on the purchase of 292.5 acres that will be added to the County’s 982-acre Lake Alto Preserve northwest of the town of Waldo.
According to an Alachua County press release, ACF, the County’s environmental land acquisition program, noted the property includes a portion of Hickory Pond and a wetland system extending to the north and west. The marsh and swamp communities in this area have been judged to be in good to excellent ecological condition. The balance of the property, purchased from the Jefferson family, is predominantly planted pine that has been thinned and treated with prescribed fire to produce good habitat for wildlife species, including gopher tortoise.
It forms a vital link in a potential ecological corridor that would link Lake Alto to Lake Santa Fe, the release stated. The property management will focus on maintaining the wetlands and improving the pine flatwoods for native wildlife species. Public use opportunities will be evaluated during the development of the management plan.
Wild Spaces and Public Places, the voter-approved, one-half-cent sales tax, provided funding for the $1.3 million purchase price. Since County voters reauthorized Wild Spaces and Public Places in 2016, Alachua County Forever has protected an additional 5,824 acres. The program has protected 25,678 acres since its inception in 2000.