In 2003, a passionate group of residents loving our beautiful coastal region were concerned about its fragility. They banded together and formed a conservation community with the intent to protect the exquisite bays, beaches, barrier islands and watersheds that define the character and ecology of our region. The mission to save land forever was imperative as they realized that conservation was a necessity not a luxury. Fueled by their passion for the land and waterways, they worked collaboratively to save lands integral to our way of life.
Early successes supported the connection of people enjoying natural spaces and include a grant from Gulf Coast Community Foundation to purchase a parking lot in downtown Venice to turn into an urban park, and a $6.6 million grant from Florida Forever to purchase Bay Preserve and ensure permanent public access to Little Sarasota Bay.
In 2010, Conservation Foundation received national accreditation, a prestigious designation signifying a track record of sound governance, excellent practices and measurable impact in land conservation. In August 2016, Conservation Foundation was awarded renewed accreditation by the national Land Trust Accreditation Commission. This designation is a mark of distinction and signifies that Conservation Foundation meets national standards of excellence, upholds the public's trust and ensures conservation efforts that are permanent.
In 2020, community voices shaped Conservation Foundation’s 2020-2023 strategic plan, The Call to Lead, which outlines strategic goals and strategies, setting the course to preserve those special natural lands that make our region extraordinary.
Today, Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast is the “go-to” for conservation insight and strategy in the region and beyond. With the permanent protection of Orange Hammock Ranch in May, 2020, our accomplishment of land protected exceeds 17,888 acres, almost 28 square miles. Thank you for your faith and unwavering support, and for shaping the Foundation's ambitious goals for the future of the region.