September 17, 2021

Press Release

Alachua Conservation Trust's Santa Fe River Preserve Expands to 1,067 Acres

| 7/20/2021

Gainesville, Florida – Alachua Conservation Trust (ACT) is pleased to announce the completion of a 133-acre addition to its Santa Fe River Preserve. The Preserve, tucked against the northern portion of Alachua County and fronting the Santa Fe River, now totals 1,067 acres of conservation land. The initial negotiations for the first tract of Santa Fe River Preserve started in 2008.

Acquisitions were completed in multiple phases over the last decade, kicking off in 2012. By the time the public opening was held in Nov. 2017, ACT and Alachua County had acquired 934 acres and protected more than six miles along the river. The preserve features nearly three miles of hiking trails weaving through marshes and forested swamps. The added land, located in Bradford County, stretches the Santa Fe River Preserve north across the river and conserves another 1.3 miles of riverfront. This further protects the upper Santa Fe River and establishes a portion of the preserve on the New River – a key tributary to the Santa Fe River.

Photo by Alison Blakeslee.

Photo by Alison Blakeslee.

Along the river frontage of the newly-acquired property there are uncommon trees such as water elm and river birch, as well as a profusion of flowering shrubs, including wild azalea. It is home to several endemic species that have disappeared or declined elsewhere. The blackwater stream of both the Santa Fe and New River provide habitat for oval pigtoes, swamp darters and sailfin shiners. In 2007, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service identified this stretch of both rivers as critical habitat for seven mussel species. Last month, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service went a step further and designated 190 miles of stream channels as critical habitat for the Suwanee moccasinshell, which is only found in North Florida. This latest addition to the Preserve is within this designated critical habitat. The natural communities found within the new land are similar in composition to those found on the existing preserve, but largely differ in elevation as the bulk of the property consists of wetlands and is located within the ten-year floodplain.

Hooded warbler by Tedd Greenwald.

Hooded warbler by Tedd Greenwald.

“With funding support from the U.S. Endowment Healthy Watersheds Consortium, a very generous private foundation, private donor loan and individual donors, ACT secured the funds needed to close on this key addition to Santa Fe River Preserve, safeguarding water sources for several counties in North Central Florida,” said ACT executive director, Tom Kay. “This preserve serves as an anchor for ACT and its partners work along the Santa Fe River, which is the key east-west wildlife corridor in North Central Florida.”

This project is one of many that ACT is working on within the Santa Fe River Corridor. ACT is working to protect 75,000 acres of land in the Santa Fe River Basin by 2045.

For more information about Alachua Conservation Trust or Santa Fe River Preserve, call (352) 373-1078 or email info@alachuaconservationtrust.org.

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