Donation of Land to Alachua County Expands the Watermelon Pond Preserve
May 14, 2021
Press release from Alachua County
The Watermelon Pond area in southwestern Alachua County hosts a diverse mix of sandhills, hardwood hammocks, and wet prairies that support a wide range of native species. Alachua County’s holdings to preserve these ecological resources have recently grown, thanks to a generous donation of land by Pierre and Nancy Warny.
Protecting reptiles and amphibians and the landscape they depend on has been a long-time passion of the Warnys. Their commitment led to the purchase of 80 acres adjacent to the Ashton Biological Preserve in 2000. The intact natural communities were ideal for the study and conservation of their species of interest. In 2002, the property was placed on the Alachua County Forever active acquisition list to purchase a conservation easement, similar to the easement the County holds on the Ashton Biological Preserve.
Eventually, the couple decided that donating the land to the County would be the best way to achieve their conservation objectives. The donation is in memory of the couple’s son, Peter Henry Warny, who loved nature and the outdoors of Florida.
The addition of the Warny property will result in 244 acres of contiguous protected area and increase the County’s Watermelon Pond Preserve to 1,240 acres. In addition to reptiles and amphibians, the preserve provides key habitat for burrowing owls and sandhill cranes, among the many terrestrial and wetland species.