Sportsmen's Land Trust Buys 680 Acres for Recreational Use by Floridians

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The nonprofit Sportsmen’s National Land Trust obtained the land with the proceeds of 56,000 specialty license plate purchases and renewals and will deed the lush parcel to the state of Florida for everyone's recreational enjoyment.

Sales of the SNLT specialty license plate raised enough money for SNLT to buy 680 acres of land in Levy County. The land will be donated to the state for the recreational enjoyment of all Floridians.

The generosity of Floridians who have purchased these tags has allowed us to acquire land that will assure Florida's outdoor historical heritage in perpetuity.

The Sportsmen’s National Land Trust-Florida (SNLT-Florida) has finalized its first major land purchase: 680 acres of “real Florida” set aside for outdoor recreation like camping, hunting and fishing.

The tract, located in Levy County, was purchased this summer with $1.4 million raised by the public’s purchase of SNLT-themed motor vehicle tags. Since 2005, when the deer logo SNLT plate design first became available, more than 56,000 tags have been sold or renewed.

“This is Florida’s outdoor spirit in action,” said David Wilcox, a Bradenton attorney who is also board president for SNLT-Florida. “The generosity of Floridians who have purchased these tags has allowed us to acquire land that will help assure Florida’s historical outdoor heritage in perpetuity.”

The as yet unnamed parcel is located adjacent to the Goethe Wildlife Management Area, a 48,000-acre area loaded with natural foliage and wildlife. The tract is home to Florida black bear, white tail deer, bald eagles, turkey, squirrels and other wildlife common to Florida, said Jerry Marlar, a Bradenton CPA who is also an SNLT board member.

Wilcox and Marlar have been working on the land’s purchase since 2007. The recession, while a factor in slowing the land’s purchase, also worked to SNLT’s advantage, said Marlar. “We were fortunate that land prices came down substantially, and we were able to buy a larger, more significant piece of property.”

Wilcox said the land’s location is ideal to serve people throughout Florida: more than half of the state lives within 2.5 hours of the property.

“It’s a great piece of land that truly represents the Florida outdoors, with a little bit of everything,” Wilcox said. “It’s got the hardwood hammocks, the pine forests, the open palmetto areas, the uplands and lowlands ... everything that natural Florida has to offer.”

SNLT plans to deed the land to the state of Florida in a ceremony to be held this fall. It is also monitoring other pieces of land throughout Florida for purchase and conservation. To learn more about SNLT, go to http://www.snltflorida.org/.

SNLT-Florida is a nonprofit organization devoted to conserving Florida’s natural resources for responsible outdoor recreation. To order your SNLT specialty plate, go to http://www.myfloridaspecialtyplate.com/sportsmens-national-land-trust.html

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