Sarasota County purchases nearly 300 acres of land to protect wildlife of threat of land development

Feet away from State Road 72 in Sarasota County, you can get away from the noise of trucks and step into 290 acres of pasture, wetlands, and natural hammock.

The land is now protected.

"The wildlife makes up the diversity, the biodiversity within southwest Florida and those are critical because they dictate the health of the environment," said Brie Ondercin, "and so by preserving the environment we ensure there is a value to the quality of life for Sarasota County residents and those in Florida."

Through the Environmentally Sensitive Land Protection Program, Sarasota County purchased the property.

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Brie Ondercin the Land Acquisition Coordinator for Sarasota County said it’s a vital piece of property along the Sarasota, DeSoto, and Manatee borders.

Before development can reach this far east, it’ll help protect not only habitats, but animals like bald eagles, gopher tortoises, and bobcats.

"This piece of land allows us to continue establishing a wildlife corridor that connects to other protected lands both in DeSoto and Manatee counties," she said.

On the land, you can follow trails that were created by cows and other animals.

Sarasota County plans to one day open the property to the public. The trails will remain.

"Being able to stand in the shade in these open green spaces provides a sense of peace. It also provides comfort in protecting something. There’s a reward in it and trying to be good stewards of the land gives you the sense that you have done something right," said Ondercin.

A step in protecting Sarasota County’s past for its future.

"Once it’s gone it’s gone. There is always progress and development can be a part of that progress," Ondercin stated, 'but it has to be balanced."