ALACHUA COUNTY - At their September 13, 2006 meeting, the Florida Communities Trust Governing Board
awarded grants to three local land conservation efforts. One of these efforts is the Barr Hammock-Ledwith Prairie Project, for which Alachua County was awarded $6.6 million to offset 60% of the cost of the 2,309 acre acquisition.
Barr Hammock is the land bridge between 3,000-acre Levy Prairie and 1,700-acre Ledwith Prairie. It provides significant landscape-level habitat and water resource protection. Because of its size, location and history, it can provide a number of interesting nature-based recreation and education opportunities.
Barr Hammock was one of the first nominations to the Alachua County Forever Program back in 2002. The County Commission approved a $10 million contract last month and the County will close on the property on September 26, 2006.
This grant brings the total contributions from State, Federal, local and non-profit partnerships directed at the County's acquisition list to $35.5 million. The Alachua County Forever Program and its partners will have protected over 10,000 acres of environmentally significant land. The Barr Hammock acquisition uses the last of the $29 million voters approved for the program. As the Alachua County Forever acquisition program winds down, these kinds of partnerships represent the only sources of funding for the remaining lands on the County's acquisition list.
Commenting on the grant, Ramesh Buch, Land Conservation Manager for Alachua County's Land Conservation Program said, "Alachua County Forever has been very aggressive in leveraging the local dollars to accomplish the goals of the Commission and preserve as much land as possible. We have been very fortunate to have active City, State and private partners willing to work towards conserving the County's natural heritage."