The Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast recently announced the permanent protection of 69 acres at the headwaters of the Myakka River in Myakka City. The newly conserved land is adjacent to the existing 363-acre Myakka Headwaters Preserve—conserved in October 2020—where seven streams converge to create the Myakka River. The Conservation Foundation purchased the 69-acre addition using its dedicated Land Fund, along with grants from the Manatee Community Foundation and the Jelks Family Foundation. The purchase was completed on Dec. 7.
The now 432-acre Myakka Headwaters Preserve is adjacent to the 2,300-acre Flatford Swamp Preserve, which contains the river’s largest forested wetland. The 69-acre addition cradles the Myakka River, sheltering it among 16 acres of floodplain marsh and 53 acres of upland forests. Among the forests are 30 acres of longleaf pine forest, a rare natural community and national conservation priority. Less than 5 percent of the original longleaf pine forests across the Southeastern United States remain.
Myakka Headwaters Preserve is also part of the growing Southwest Florida Wildlife Corridor, a land conservation initiative stretching from south Tampa Bay to the Everglades and connecting to the more well-known Florida Wildlife Corridor. To date, the Conservation Foundation has protected more than 19,000 acres across 55 properties, of which almost 18,000 acres are within the Southwest Florida Wildlife Corridor. These critical lands provide vital habitats for plants and animals, help capture pollution, act as natural buffers along coasts and riverbeds, and absorb rainfall from intense storms.
The Conservation Foundation’s Land Fund was established in 2017 to quicken the pace of land conservation. The organization’s board of trustees oversees the use of these funds to conserve priority land when other public and/or private funding is not available.
The Myakka Headwaters Preserve is not open to the public, though those wishing to experience the landscape firsthand are invited to attend one of Conservation Foundation’s free Nature Interpretation programs. Learn more about them here.