Historic Babcock Ranch Preserve in Operation and Open to Public
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Babcock Ranch Preserve in Charlotte County begins a new chapter in its rich history as it becomes the largest state-owned working cattle ranch to be managed by a private cattle company while expanding public recreational opportunities, including: hiking, biking, horseback riding and ranch tours. When Babcock Ranch was purchased by the state of Florida in 2005, it was hailed as the crowning jewel of the Florida Forever program. This week, the management of the nearly 70,000-acre ranch transferred from the state to Tarpon Blue Resources and Land Management.
“Babcock Ranch is steeped in Florida history, and state leaders had the foresight to preserve this land for future generations,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam. “This new agreement honors the agricultural heritage of the land by keeping the ranch in private cattle production while allowing the state to focus our attention on expanding recreational opportunities for the public. It is a model for others to follow. With the rapid growth of our state, protecting our environmental resources, keeping the ranch in agricultural production and providing recreational opportunities to the public is more important than ever.”
In 2005, Gov. Jeb Bush and the Cabinet voted to purchase Babcock Ranch as part of the Florida Forever program in what was the single largest state conservation land acquisition in Florida’s history. In 2015, the Legislature established the Babcock Ranch Preserve Act to protect and preserve the agricultural, scientific, scenic, geologic, watershed, fish, wildlife, historic, cultural and recreational values of the preserve. This agreement honors the purchase and the intent of that Act by protecting the natural resources while managing for multiple uses.