Conservation Foundation’s Myakka Headwaters Preserve grows by 69 acres

Entire site shelters 16 acres of floodplain marsh and 53 acres of upland forests

The Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast has announced the permanent protection of 69 acres at the headwaters of the Myakka River in Myakka City.

“The newly conserved land is adjacent to the Foundation’s existing 363-acre Myakka Headwaters Preserve — conserved in October 2020 — where seven streams converge to create the Myakka River,” a news release explains. The Foundation purchased the 69-acre addition with money from its dedicated Land Fund, along with grant assistance from the Manatee Community Foundation and the Jelks Family Foundation, the release adds. The purchase was completed on Dec. 7.

“The now 432-acre Myakka Headwaters Preserve is adjacent to the 2,300-acre Flatford Swamp Preserve, which contains the river’s largest forested wetland,” the release explains.

“The 69-acre addition cradles the Myakka River, sheltering it among 16 acres of floodplain marsh and 53 acres of upland forests,” the release adds. Those forests hold 30 acres of longleaf pines, “a rare natural community and national conservation priority,” the release points out. Less than 5% of the original longleaf pine forests across the Southeastern United States remain, the release notes.

“Myakka Headwaters Preserve is also part of the growing Southwest Florida Wildlife Corridor, a land conservation initiative stretching from south Tampa Bay to the Everglades and connecting to the more well-known Florida Wildlife Corridor,” the release further explains.

To date, the Conservation Foundation has protected more than 19,200 acres across 55 properties, of which almost 18,000 acres are within the Southwest Florida Wildlife Corridor, the release says. These lands “provide vital habitats for plants and animals, help capture pollution, act as natural buffers along coasts and riverbeds, and absorb rainfall from intense storms,” the release adds.

“Now that we own land on both sides of the Myakka River, we can ensure the full restoration and protection of the entire river floodplain in this area,” said Christine P. Johnson, president of the Conservation Foundation, in the release. “We are grateful to Alyssa Nohren, Esq., of [the] Icard Merrill [law firm in Sarasota] for her tireless effort to help us complete these two very complex land projects, pro bono, and to the Manatee Community Foundation and the Jelks Family Foundation for their support in ensuring the permanent protection of this land,” Johnson added. “We are also grateful to all those who contributed to our dedicated Land Fund, making protections like this possible.”

The Foundation’s Land Fund “was established in 2017 to quicken the pace of land conservation,” the release points out. The nonprofit’s board of trustees “oversees the use of these funds to conserve priority land when other public and/or private funding is not available,” the release adds.

The Myakka Headwaters Preserve is not open to the public, the release notes, “though those wishing to experience the landscape firsthand are invited to attend one of Conservation Foundation’s free Nature Interpretation programs. Learn more about upcoming program activities at,” the release adds.