Alachua County fills the final gap in protection of Lochloosa Slough
July 14, 2023
Press release from Alachua County
ALACHUA COUNTY, Fla. – Alachua County Forever, the County’s environmental land acquisition program, has closed on purchasing 348.5 acres of land from Ona Colasante. The closing was held on Tuesday, July 11, 2023, and protects over three-quarters of a mile of the Lochloosa Slough waterway and surrounding forest. Funding for this $1,815,440 conservation land purchase was provided by the voter-approved Wild Spaces and Public Places sales tax.
With this purchase, the last piece of Lochloosa Slough has now been protected as a public conservation land. Located south of Hawthorne, the Lochloosa Slough area contains one of the highest quality and most important wetland connections in Alachua County, connecting Lochloosa Lake to Orange Creek, the Oklawaha River, and the St. John’s River. This property provides a key linkage in the network of protected lands surrounding Lochloosa Lake, an Outstanding Florida Waterway. The property also falls within the Florida Wildlife Corridor, a statewide landscape corridor identified as critical to protecting wildlife habitats. Property management will focus on maintaining the high-quality slough wetland and improving the pine flatwoods habitat with prescribed fire and longleaf pine restoration to benefit native wildlife species.
“We are pleased that our valued partner, Alachua County, has acquired an integral parcel of land in the Lochloosa Lake/Orange Lake watershed,” says St. Johns River Water Management District Executive Director Mike Register. “The Colasante property is a wonderful addition to the conservation lands in this region that protect water and natural resources. This property will directly protect Lochloosa Slough and is an important piece of the corridor between Orange Creek and Lochloosa Lake.”
The Colasante property is the fourth Alachua County Forever conservation land acquisition of 2023, following County voters’ re-authorization of the Wild Spaces and Public Places initiative in November 2022. Through ongoing citizen support and partnerships, the program has worked with willing landowners to protect 33,386 acres since its inception in 2000.