Conservation Foundation of Gulf Coast permanently protects 14.38 acres in Manatee County

Property located within both the Manatee River and Tampa Bay watersheds

This is a view of the property in Manatee County. Image courtesy Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast

The Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast has achieved the permanent protection of another 14.38 acres in Manatee County, the nonprofit has announced.

The land is located between Manatee County’s Braden River Park, which lies to the south of the acreage, and the Honi Hanta Girl Scout Camp, which is to the north and east, a news release points out. “The protection was made possible thanks to a generous conservation easement donation from the property’s owner, Bunny Garst, in honor of her late husband, Judge Claflin Garst Jr.,” the release adds.

The transaction was completed on Dec. 30, 2021, the release notes.

The property subsequently was sold to the adjoining landowners, James and Mary Parks, for continued grazing and other limited agricultural use, subject to the conservation easement, the release explains.

“Judge Garst was the son of early Manatee County settlers and grew up on the land,” Christine P. Johnson, president of the Conservation Foundation, pointed out in the release. “We are grateful to Bunny Garst for choosing to donate this easement and pleased we can help honor Judge Garst’s legacy by forever protecting the rural character of this land,” Johnson added in the release.

“The protection of this land is the first step in a larger initiative to permanently conserve an additional 58 acres” that Garst owns. The property is the focus of the Conservation Foundation’s “ongoing effort to protect the remaining natural and agricultural lands along Gap Creek and the Braden River,” the release says.

The Garst property is located within both the Manatee River and Tampa Bay watersheds, the release notes. It filters rain and surface water runoff, helping to clean the water before that water enters the Manatee River and ultimately Tampa Bay, the release adds.

Moreover, flooding in Manatee County is prevented through the storage of rain and surface water runoff, the release points out.

“Conserving this land permanently protects habitat suitable for a variety of natural communities, including multiple species of grassland birds, which are in steep decline nationwide,” the release says.

The donation of this land was made possible with a grant from the Bill and Mary Muirhead Fund of the Community Foundation of Sarasota County, which provides dedicated resources for its ongoing stewardship, the release explains.

Landowners interested in learning how to safeguard the future of their land, and the potential tax benefits available to them, are encouraged to contact the Conservation Foundation’s land protection team by calling 941-918-2100. The Foundation’s headquarters are in Osprey.