Land along Florida’s Rainbow River gets conservation protections

Rainbow Springs, Florida Photo by Rob Lorei

The state has completed a deal that will shield 135 acres along the Rainbow River in Marion County from development, the group Conservation Florida said this week.

Gov. Ron DeSantis and the state Cabinet in January approved spending $3 million to purchase a conservation easement on the property, which will be part of a statewide wildlife corridor.

Under conservation easements, the property continues to be privately owned but cannot be used for such things as development.

The non-profit Conservation Florida said it worked with landowner Jim Gissy to negotiate a sale of the conservation easement to the state through the Florida Forever program.

Traci Deen, president and CEO of Conservation Florida, said in a prepared statement that what is known as Gissy Rainbow River Ranch is an “amazing piece of land” that will be permanently preserved. “This property does it all — it protects water, wildlife, scenic views along the river and serves as a critical connecting piece of the Florida Wildlife Corridor,” Deen said.

Before DeSantis and the Cabinet approved moving forward with the purchase Jan. 17, Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Shawn Hamilton said the Rainbow River has one of the largest spring runs in the world.

“Acquiring a conservation easement is crucial for the protection of water quality as well as the ecosystem along the Rainbow River,” Hamilton said, according to a transcript of the meeting.

©2023 The News Service of Florida

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