The Suwannee River Water Management District (District) has purchased a conservation easement on 443 acres of land on the Santa Fe River adjacent to O’Leno State Park in Columbia County. The easement, secured for water resource protection, was purchased from Ronald and Dorothy Feagle on Jan. 27.
The conservation easement will perpetually protect 2.54 miles of river frontage, 435 acres of floodplain forest and 8 acres of adjacent uplands, all of which will remain in their natural state and condition. In addition, it will provide for springs and surfacewater protection and preserve the habitat of wading birds, waterfowl and other wildlife.
A large portion of the property is located within a District regulatory floodway and the majority of the land lies within a 10-year and 100-year floodplain. Bonnet Lake, a freshwater slough of the main river channel, is also situated on the property.
“We commend the Feagles for partnering with the District to protect our natural resources,” said Joe Flanagan, the District’s director of land acquisition and management. “Not only will this easement provide a buffer for the Santa Fe River, it will allow for natural forest regeneration and protect hundreds of floodway and floodplain acres.”
The purchase was completed using Florida Forever funding in the amount of $1,083,925 or $2,500 per acre.
A conservation easement is a perpetual agreement that leaves the basic ownership and management of property with the land owner but permanently restricts the use and alteration of the land. The District currently protects more than 124,000 acres of water resource lands using this tool.