Sarasota County protects 290 acres of environmentally sensitive land along the Sarasota, DeSoto and Manatee county lines

Property is part of Eastern Ranchlands Protection Site

 On Feb. 23, Sarasota County acquired 290 acres along the Sarasota, DeSoto and Manatee county lines, county staff has announced.

The purchase was made possible by “the Environmentally Sensitive Lands Protection Program (ESLPP), which was created to acquire and protect environmental land,” a news release points out.

“As part of the Eastern Ranchlands Protection Priority Site, this strategic purchase connects multiple green spaces, providing continuous land protection along State Road 72 into DeSoto and Manatee counties,” said Nicole Rissler, director of Sarasota County Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources Department, in the release. “This property consists of a mixture of pasture, wetlands, and mesic hammock habitat that provide a significant wildlife corridor, which will now be safeguarded in perpetuity,” she added.

The 290-acre site is home to the sandhill crane, Florida wood stork, ibis, crested caracara, red shouldered hawk, bald eagle, gopher tortoise, pygmy diamondback rattlesnake, and bobcats, the release says. The property also is used for cattle grazing, under terms of a lease that allows cow and calf ranch operations, the release notes.

The ESLPP is a voter-approved and taxpayer-funded program that 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 conservation easements, the release explains. Conservation easements remove a parcel’s development rights and require the landowners — current and future — to protect the land for use as greenways, for water quality improvement, for habitat, and for wildlife protection in perpetuity, the release points out.

The Environmentally Sensitive Lands Oversight Committee (ESLOC) advises the Sarasota County Commission on land nominations, acquisition, management, prioritization, and use of environmentally sensitive lands throughout the county, the release explains.

Learn more about the ESLPP by visiting or calling 311.