The conserved land is owned by Collier County government which has entrusted its permanent protection to Conservation Foundation.
The property, half grazing land, and half native wetlands and woodlands, is located within the Florida panther Primary Habitat zone established by the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). This preserve is used extensively by both male and female panthers. This legal agreement with Collier County, US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast, fulfills Collier County’s obligation to place a perpetual conservation easement on the most natural portions of the County’s 2,512-acre preserve. The conservation easement is required as part of a mitigation agreement offsetting impacts to panther habitat from Collier County Government development of public facilities.
The Florida panther is one of the rarest and most iconic large mammals in the United States. Relegated to the most backwater refuges of the Everglades for decades, this large cat is making a comeback. Populations are expanding northward, and conservation of critical habitat throughout Southwest Florida will make a real difference. Trail cameras on the property have documented extensive panther use, including kitten rearing.
Pepper Ranch Preserve is rich with abundant wildlife including a variety of wading birds, alligators, and frequent Florida black bear sightings as well as Florida panther. The preserve is located on Lake Trafford and open Friday through Sunday between November and June for public use which includes hiking, biking, horseback riding, camping, and wildlife viewing.