Burns property in North Port purchased by county through Environmentally Sensitive Lands Protection Program

43.34 acres considered protection priority site

The Burns property is outlined in red on this graphic. Image courtesy Sarasota County

On Thursday, April 4, Sarasota County staff “successfully finalized the purchase” of the 43.34-acre Burns property, which is located on Woodland Boulevard in North Port, within unincorporated Sarasota County, the county has announced.

The land, which is part of Deer Prairie Creek Preserve, was considered a protection priority site within Sarasota County’s Environmentally Sensitive Lands Protection Program (ESLPP), a county news release explains.

The county paid $1,450,000 for the property, the Sarasota County Property Appraiser’s Office website shows. The seller was the Albert H. Blackburn Revocable Trust. In 2023, the Property Appraiser’s Office valued the land at $1,160,200, the record says.

“Acquiring this property shows Sarasota County’s continued commitment to land protection, and its efforts to provide connectivity in the region,” said Nicole Rissler, director of the Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources Department, in the release.

“The Burns property consists of pasture, marshes and mixed hardwood hammock habitat,” the release points out. Among the wildlife spotted on the land have been the Eastern wild turkey, crested caracara, swallow-tailed kite and sandhill cranes, the release adds.

The ESLPP is a voter-approved and taxpayer-funded program established to acquire and protect natural lands and parklands, the release notes. Property owners pay 0.25 mills on their property bills each year to generate revenue for the program.

As the county’s website explains, the ESLPP began in 1999. “Since its inception, the ESLPP has protected and preserved more than 40,540 acres of natural habitat, with more than 21,000 of those acres placed under a conservation easement. Conservation easements remove the land’s development rights and require the landowner, current and future, to protect the land for greenways, water quality, habitat, and wildlife protection in perpetuity.”

County records show that the members of the county’s Environmentally Sensitive Lands Oversight Committee (ESLOC) discussed the acquisition of the property during their regular meeting on April 6, 2023.

The Land Nomination Form for the property — a copy of which The Sarasota News Leader received through a public records request — included a second site, the Bailie property. The form noted that both parcels have historical and/or archaeological value, along with open space, and that they are adjacent to existing public lands and/or trails.

As of April 23, the Sarasota County Property Appraiser’s Office records show, the Bailie Family Revocable Trust still owns the Bailie property, whose actual address is 4199 Woodland Blvd. in North Port.

This graphic shows both the Burns and Bailie properties in North Port. Image courtesy Sarasota County

During the April 6, 2023 ESLOC meeting, committee member Alyn Kay, a registered landscape architect, made the motion for staff to proceed with the process necessary for the county to purchase both the Burns and Bailie properties, making them part of the Deer Prairie Creek Protection Priority Site, the minutes of that meeting say. The motion passed unanimously.

As the county website explains, the Deer Prairie Creek Preserve is a “6,400-acre preserve is named after Deer Prairie Creek, a tributary of the ‘Wild and Scenic’ Myakka River that flows through the property. In combination with other protected lands to the north, this preserve provides complete protection of the creek in Sarasota County and nearly six miles of the Myakka River’s east bank. The property is co-owned and co-managed by Sarasota County and Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD).”

“Community members interested in nominating land to be considered for county acquisition may complete a land nomination form,” the county news release adds. The completed form may be sent to landnominations@scgov.net or mailed to the following address: Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources, Attn: Land Nominations, 1660 Ringling Blvd., 5th Floor, Sarasota, FL 34236.

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