An edition of: WaterAtlas.orgPresented By: Sarasota County, USF Water Institute

Water-Related News

Small-acre preserves provide wildlife habitat, water treatment areas within communities

Florida has millions of acres protected in federal and state preserves.

But across fast-growing Southwest Florida, thousands of acres are also preserved in presumed perpetuity behind the gates of private communities.

Alone, 80 acres here and 100 acres there might not have much of an environmental effect, but taken together, the tracts provide water recharge areas, storm water systems and habitat for wildlife ranging from raccoons and foxes to nesting birds and alligators.

“(Preserves) provide a lot of value and function for species,” said Jim Beever, a member of the Southwest Florida Regional Planning Council. “Even smaller preserves can do a lot of good for species without large ranges like gopher tortoises and species that can get around in the air. They’re very valuable for things like the bald eagle.”

These preserve areas are typically planned in advance, before the first skeletons of new homes are raised. Beever has worked on these types of preserve areas in Southwest Florida for decades and said each plan for a new preserve is site specific.