363 acres at headwaters of Myakka River receive permanent protection from development

New preserve next to Flatford Swamp, which is river’s largest forested wetland

Image courtesy Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast

The Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast has announced the permanent protection of 363 acres at the headwaters of the Myakka River in Myakka City.

“Seven creeks converge into one river, the Myakka, at the newly named Myakka Headwaters Preserve,” a news release explains. “The clear-flowing water allows the creek bottoms to support submerged aquatic vegetation,” which is unable to grow in sunlight-blocked blackwaters found elsewhere on the Myakka, the release points out. The preserve is next to the 2,300-acre Flatford Swamp, which is the river’s largest forested wetland, the release adds.

“This an exceptional part of the Myakka River and the greater coastal Florida ecosystem, containing numerous diverse habitats,” the release continues. “The Preserve’s floodplain forests contain tupelo and red maple, uncommon on the lower Myakka, and support threatened orchids and airplants, including the Myakka River airplant (tillandsia simulata). The marshland forms a seasonally dry meadow with sandy ridges supporting lowland loosestrife, a Florida-endangered flower found in twelve counties and no place else in the world,” the release adds.

“The Preserve also contains more than a mile of uplands and oak hammocks buffering both sides of Flatford Swamp and the Myakka River,” the release says. “Here, longleaf pine flatwoods are home to gopher tortoise, a keystone species, and rare plants such as Florida Alicia. Oak hammocks are also present, hosting additional orchids, airplants, and ferns,” it notes.

The Myakka River Land Fund of Manatee Community Foundation awarded $1.3 million for the permanent protection of the Myakka Headwaters Preserve, the release points out. “The established purpose of this fund is to purchase or restore environmentally significant lands within the Manatee County Myakka River Watershed,” the release notes.

“Safeguarding this rare property is essential to the health of everything downstream,” said Christine Johnson, president of Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast, in the release. “We are grateful for the Myakka River Land Fund of the Manatee Community Foundation for protecting these rare lands for people and nature. Our quality of life depends on it,” Johnson added in the release.