Conservation Florida announced Jan. 17 that Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Florida Cabinet approved funding to complete the purchase of an easement along the Rainbow River known as the Gissy Rainbow River Ranch. The 135-acre property includes 4,200 linear feet of river shoreline.
The purchase through the Florida Forever program will protect “most of the last undeveloped or minimally developed private land” along the river, helping it serve as a connector piece in the Florida Wildlife Corridor, Conservation Florida said in a press release.
Local developer Jim Gissy, owner of the Gissy Rainbow River Ranch, proposed an eco-tourist resort on the property, before he withdrew an application amid local pushback. He then collaborated with Conservation Florida, a land trust which specializes in aiming to protect Florida’s natural and agricultural landscapes, to seek a purchase through the State program.
“The conservation of land to create a conserved wildlife corridor spanning our state is not only necessary for wildlife such as the Florida panther, black bear, and gopher tortoise, but also for protecting our water, economy, and way of life,” said Traci Deen, president and CEO of Conservation Florida. Dean’s organization also gained approval of a purchase of a 2,529-acre property in Okeechobee County.
“With (the) approval of our project, (they) are on their way to being protected for generations to come and we move the needle forward on the protection of a functional Florida Wildlife Corridor.”
The Rainbow River has one of the largest spring runs in the world and is a designated National Natural Landmark, an aquatic preserve, and an Outstanding Florida Waterway.
“I am thrilled to partner with Conservation Florida on the permanent protection of this uniquely special property” Gissy said. “A conservation easement will provide added protection to the ecosystem it supports and play a critical role in the connection and protection of the Florida Wildlife Corridor.”