As part of 20th anniversary celebration, Conservation Foundation putting spotlight on protecting nature

Nonprofit based in Osprey has preserved more than 19,200 acres

The Florida scrub jay is a resident of Oscar Scherer State Park, near Osprey. Photo contributed by Fran Palmeri

As it celebrates 20 years of conserving land in Southwest Florida, each month, the Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast is focusing on a different aspect of its work and the corresponding community impact, the nonprofit, which is based in Osprey points out in a news release.

For October, the leaders of the organization have announced, Protecting Nature is the initiative in the spotlight, as that is a central element of its work. With the support of its “dedicated and growing conservation community,” the land trust has protected more than 19,200 acres, the release notes.

“In the United States, we lose approximately 150 acres of natural land and 40 acres of farmland every hour,” the release continues. “The impact on wildlife and native species is unquestioned.”

In Florida, with more than 1,000 new people reportedly moving to the state each day, the release says, “it is vital that we conserve our remaining natural lands before it’s too late.” A number of species found in Florida have not been documented anywhere else in the world, the release points out. “These are called ‘endemic species’ ”; they include wildlife such as the Florida scrub jay and plants such as the Florida loosestrife. “We need to protect where they live today or they will be gone forever,” the release adds.

“A vibrant blue bird, the Florida scrub jay is nearing extinction in Sarasota County,” the release continues, because the birds require a certain type of habitat called “scrub.”

“Protecting the dwindling scrub habitat and creating connections between populations is crucial to the survival of this endemic species,” the release adds. The Conservation Foundation repeatedly has helped protect properties containing scrub jay habitat, including the Tatum Sawgrass Preserve and Sarasota County’s Old Miakka Preserve and Manasota Scrub Preserve, the release notes.

In 2019, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology awarded a $20,000 grant to the Conservation Foundation in support of its efforts to protect and restore habitat for the threatened Florida scrub jay, the release adds.

“If we want to protect plants and animals, it is essential that we protect the land and waters upon which their survival depends,” noted Christine P. Johnson, president of the Conservation Foundation, in the release. “More people come to Florida to view wildlife than any other state, but that will change if we don’t quicken the pace of conservation. Our work helps ensure the incredible animals and gorgeous natural landscapes Florida is so well-known for continue to exist forever.”

The Conservation Foundation protects nature for people, as well, the release adds. “People need nature for many reasons. Nature gives us clean air and water, healthy food, and special places to relax and recharge. Time spent outdoors is proven to provide a host of physical, mental, and emotional benefits,” the release continues, especially for children as they grow and learn about themselves and the world around them.

“Nature is a place of respite, a source of adventure, and a treasure trove of memories to last a lifetime,” the release says. The land that the Conservation Foundation saves “ensures our community has natural areas and open spaces to enjoy both now and in the future. When it comes to protecting nature, land conservation is essential.”

Learn more about how Conservation Foundation is protecting nature at