Conservation Foundation served as the acquisition agent for Sarasota County’s Environmentally Sensitive Lands Protection Program (ESLPP) between 2007 and 2014. During that time, Conservation Foundation used our land conservation expertise to preserve a number of properties through this program that are considered iconic natural areas, including the Longino Ranch. Conservation Foundation worked closely with the Longino family to create a conservation easement that would forever protect the ranch’s beautiful woods, waterways, and pastures, while at the same time allowing the family to continue their traditional ranch lifestyle. Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD) teamed up with Sarasota County to purchase and steward the easement.
The Longino Ranch is spectacular for its size, abundant wildlife, and connectivity with other protected land. Located in eastern Sarasota County, this ranch was conserved as part of a larger effort to create a continuous corridor of natural land, stretching from Arcadia to Sarasota, from the Peace River to Myakka River. This block of land is now more than 110,000 acres in size, and includes Myakka River State Park and the T. Mabry Carlton Memorial Reserve. It is hoped that in time, this corridor will connect to the everglades and bring Florida black bears and Florida panthers back to our region. At the same time, the “River to River” wilderness trail has been proposed, so that people can Florida’s wilderness, and hike all the way from the Myakka River to the Peace River.