Orange Hammock Ranch is a 5,774-acre property within the City of North Port that has been identified by local and state agencies and environmental leaders as the top priority for permanent protection. The property was identified by Sarasota County in 1998 as a critical natural protection area, and was added to the State's Florida Forever list of land acquisition priorities in 2013. Sarasota County and Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD) have tried repeatedly to protect this property for decades. For the past three years, Conservation Foundation has been building public awareness and political support for its purchase. Now it is time to ensure that the public and potential private funds are made available to buy the land before it is sold to an uncooperative landowner or its pristine natural area destroyed. Your support can assist Conservation Foundation in its ongoing work to finally permanently conserve. See map.
The ranch is located on the north side of Interstate 75 in the City of North Port. It connects RV Griffin Preserve with the Longino Preserve through about six miles of shared boundaries, and strengthens the 110,000-acre buffer along the Myakka River and the connection between the Myakka and Peace Rivers. It is estimated that 60-75% of the property is wetland or within the 100-year flood plain. Immense volumes of rainfall collect on the property and feed Snover Waterway and Myakkahatchee Creek, providing a critical source of North Port’s clean drinking water.
The property is also nearly pristine, with natural areas in better condition than many public lands. Given this location and exceptional natural condition, the conservation of Orange Hammock Ranch will have sweeping benefits for regional connectivity, wildlife habitat, water quality and public recreation.
We are now at a critical stage in the effort to permanently protect Orange Hammock Ranch, forever. This 5,774-acre property helps protect North Port's drinking water, reduces flood risk and will provide access to the public for recreation and eco-tourism opportunities. Negotiations are underway with the landowner, and both the Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD) and Sarasota County are committed to helping fund the purchase of the property, but their funding may not be enough.
Time is running out to get the required funding identified and secure in order to conserve Orange Hammock Ranch. FOREVER. See the recent editorial in the North Port Sun.
Your voice can help our elected officials stay the course and make this a reality.
Protecting Orange Hammock Ranch is part of our ambitious Myakka Island Conservation Corridor project, striving to preserve 10,000 acres in the Myakka River watershed. Join our conservation community and help us protect this ranch and other critical natural lands, forever.
Three landscape photos by Everett Marc Photography