Alachua County Expands Protected Corridor Along the Santa Fe River

Press release from Alachua County

ALACHUA COUNTY, Fla. – Alachua County Forever, the County’s environmental land acquisition program, has closed on purchasing 189 acres of land from Betty and Joel Matthews. The closing was held on Friday, February 10, 2023, and protects over half a mile of frontage on the Santa Fe River. The voter-approved Wild Spaces and Public Places one-half-cent sales tax provided funding for this $841,798 conservation land purchase.

“Protecting family land through conservation provides an exciting way to combine a family legacy and love for their land with a healthier and more sustainable future for the next generations of Alachua County citizens,” said Alachua County Land Conservation and Management Program Manager Andi Christman.

Protection of the Matthews property connects the family’s history of land ownership in the County to the future significantly. This important property protects the wetland floodplain forest and key uplands on the Santa Fe River’s south bank. The Santa Fe River is a unique, spring-fed system, the protection of which is one of the highest priorities of the Alachua County Forever program. Only one mile downstream from the property is an unnamed fourth-magnitude spring, and the first magnitude Santa Fe Spring (AKA Columbia Spring) is only 0.3 miles further. Protection of lands like the Matthews property helps to safeguard the drinking water supply of North Florida and protects the water quality of the river itself and the springs that flow into it. Decades of efforts by public and private conservation partners have assembled an expanding corridor of protected land along this Outstanding Florida Waterway, which this property helps to secure further. The commitment of the Matthews family to the protection of this land was critical to the conservation of this property.

Future plans for the property include longleaf pine habitat restoration and nature-based public recreational access, highlighting a sweeping view over the floodplain forest into Union County and a pristine section of the Santa Fe River.

The Matthews property is the second Alachua County Forever acquisition of 2023, following County voters’ re-authorization of the Wild Spaces and Public Places initiative in 2022. Through ongoing citizen support, the program has protected 32,879 acres since its inception in 2000.

View a map of the land acquisition area.

Learn more about Alachua County Forever.

  • Does anyone besides myself wonder how much tax revenue has been taken off the tax rolls and passed on to others since their “save the universe” land purchases started?
    The county can’t even maintain the sidewalks and they freely spend money buying more acreage. The county and state are not taxed so someone is making up the difference. Doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know who that is.

  • I would like to see an article showing how much of the new 1/2 percent sales tax has been spent on on road maintenance. In western Alachua county it looks like a couple of guys with a pickup truck and buckets of asphalt patch go around doing road repair. It’s been like this for the 20 plus years we’ve lived here. Let’s not forget that the roads are also “public places” and we use them every day. According to this article the county spent almost one million dollars on on piece of land. How much have they spent on road repair?

    • What would be more interesting is how much of past tax revenues have been utilized for road maintenance. That’s something they don’t want the public to know because it contradicts what they duped voters into believing during the last cycle.

      It should be public record and can be requested. Once requested, I believe the county has 3 days to provide a response or they open themselves up for potential litigation.

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