State Preserves More Than 2,300 Acres of 160-Year-Old Ranch in Putnam County
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The Governor and Cabinet today unanimously approved the preservation of 2,306 acres of environmentally sensitive agricultural land on the Clay Ranch in Putnam County, while allowing the land and agriculture operations to continue to contribute to Florida’s economy. The purchase is a part of the Rural and Family Lands Protection Program, which partners with Florida’s farmers and ranchers to preserve active agricultural operations and their immense economic and environmental benefits through cost-effective conservation easements.
Today’s partnership increases the total land preserved by the program to 27,649 acres over 31 conservation easements. Since 2011, 24 projects totaling 24,064 acres have been acquired by the current Governor and Cabinet, a more than 600 percent increase in acres preserved by the program.
“Florida’s farmers and ranchers are our state’s original conservationists, and partnering with them through conservation easements is a cost-effective way to preserve these invaluable pieces of our rural economy and environment for future generations,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam
Clay Ranch is a cattle operation in Putnam County that has been in operation for 160 years. This new easement is situated between two existing conservation areas – the Ordway-Swisher Biological Station and Etoniah Creek State Forest.
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services created the Rural and Family Lands Protection Program in 2001 and has acquired 31 perpetual easements totaling 27,649 acres. The easements protect working agricultural lands threatened by other uses, such as development.
The goals of the program include:
• Protecting valuable agricultural lands;
• Creating conservation easements that ensure sustainable agricultural practices;
• Preventing conversion to non-agricultural land uses in the rural base of Florida; and
• Helping to protect natural resources in conjunction with these agricultural operations.
Florida agriculture has an overall economic impact estimated at more than $120 billion annually, making it the state’s second largest industry. The agriculture industry supports more than 2 million jobs in Florida.