At the behest of several environmental groups, including the Sierra Club, People for Protecting Peace River and ManaSota-88, the Conservancy of Southwest Florida deeded over the Peaceful Horse Ranch – a 4,400 acre property – to the State of Florida to become a new Forestry Reserve, under the management of the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Services (DACS).
The total transaction, valued at more than $12 million, represents a significant acquisition of public property for conservation. The agreement is the result of a unique confluence of events and partners. These groups, along with the Mosaic Company, determined that this ecologically significant property would help preserve vital natural habitats but also contribute to downstream water quality in the Charlotte Harbor. Peaceful Horse Ranch has 7 ½ miles of the Peace River on one side of it, 5 ½ miles of Horse Creek on the other, and is largely made up of wetlands and wildlife habitat.
“Preserving the ranch will help protect the water quality of the Peace River and its creeks as these waters flow into the Charlotte Harbor estuary – to protect endangered and threatened fish and other wildlife associated with the floodplains, rivers, creeks and estuary,” said Bev Griffiths, chair of the Sierra Club Phosphate Committee. “It will also provide for conservation-based recreational opportunities. Preservation also helps establish links with other conservation areas, protects wildlife, and preserves a natural flood plain. The land can help create a trail corridor from the Southwest Florida Water Management District’s (SWFWMD) Deep Creek area north along the river, then to Myakka State Park. Development would also be minimized from buffers at the Peace River.”
“Thanks to the grassroots efforts of Sierra Club, People for Protecting Peace River and ManaSota-88, the Conservancy was able to facilitate this transaction based on its past experience in complex land acquisition and preservation efforts,” said Robert Moher, president and CEO of the Conservancy of Southwest Florida. “We wish to acknowledge the strong leadership of Commissioner Adam Putnam in making this acquisition a reality. Thanks to his efforts and those of our conservation partners, this preserve will link into a network of protected areas, preserve a remarkably beautiful landscape and provide new opportunities for the public to access and enjoy the area in a sustainable manner.”