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Conservancy buys scrub-jay habitat for CK Scrub

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The platted subdivision is no longer eligible for development

By Kellie Parkin

A vital scrub-jay habitat platted for subdivision development was purchased this week by The Nature Conservancy and will be donated to the Cedar Key Scrub State Reserve for permanent preservation.

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The Levy County-approved platted subdivision, Shell Mound Estates, is an undeveloped 125-acre property located on the east side of CR 347, just south of the intersection of CR 326, adjacent to the Cedar Key Scrub.

“We were lucky to have purchased it in the current economy, because the property could have been very attractive to an investor or developer,” said Angela Klug, Florida Director of Real Estate for The Nature Conservancy. “It would have been much easier to develop because it was already platted.”

The newly acquired land is home to several species of rare and threatened native Florida wildlife.

“(The property) includes significant areas of scrub and scrubby flatwoods which provide breeding and foraging habitat for the Florida scrub-jay, the Eastern indigo snake, the gopher tortoise and the Florida mouse,” said Dan Pearson, a biologist for Florida State Parks. “The Nature Conservancy’s acquisition of this property will preserve a significant portion of the Florida scrub-jay habitat in the core of the range of the Cedar Key metapopulation.”

The scrub-jay population in Levy County is unique and extremely important, said Kristin Ebersol, Ck Scrub Park Manager.

“The Scrub habitat here is separated from others in the state,” Ebersol said. “It separates the (scrub-jays) from all the others in Florida. It makes our birds pretty distinct.”

The Nature Conservancy has worked since last July to buy the property, which was taken by judicial process from the previous owner, according to a press release issued by TNC. The property is expected to be transferred to the state within the year.

The inland areas in coastal Levy County are important to the overall protection of the Big Bend area, and acquisition of the tract will abate the threats of habitat conversion and landscape fragmentation adjacent to the reserve, according to the press release.

The Nature Conservancy is an international conservation organization working to protect ecologically important lands and waters. More information can be found at www.nature.org.