Ranches’ Preservation Gaining Headway


SARASOTA, FLORIDA, August 16th, 2016 – Efforts to protect the health of the region’s ecosystem continue to move forward as the Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast, an Osprey-based nonprofit, is making significant progress in conserving three ranches in Sarasota and Manatee counties.

These three include Triangle Ranch and Sheps Island Ranch, both bordering the Myakka River State Park, and the Orange Hammock Ranch in North Port. With a land area totaling 7,564 acres, these ranches are conservatively valued at around $14 million. More than this amount, the preservation of the ranches bodes well for homes for sale in Sarasota and Manatee.

Florida Forever Listing

Ranches’ Preservation Gaining Headway#

In 2014, these ranches were added to Florida Forever conservation priority list. Although properties in this list are not assured of total protection from development, it paves the way for more detailed negotiations about their conservation aspects.

In May 2016, the foundation successfully negotiated with the Florida Water Management District for this agency to earmark $2 million for a conservation easement on the 1,088-acre Triangle Ranch. This allocation brings the property closer to being put into permanent conservation, since the foundation has found a prospective buyer of the ranch agreeable to the perpetual easement.

The buyer, Bradenton philanthropist and Mote Marine board member Elizabeth Moore, is buying another 55 acres adjacent to the ranch. And though this acreage will not have a conservation easement, the property will be deed-restricted, and its development will thus be limited. The purchase price for Triangle Ranch’s 1,088 acres is set at $4.8 million.

Saving North Port Ranch

In July 2016, the conservation foundation received a 120-day extension by which to facilitate purchase of the 5,774-acre Orange Hammock Ranch in North Port. Its owner is asking $22 million for this property. The ranch had been earlier approved as site of the Isles of Athena, a community with 15,000 homes plus 4.2 million square feet of commercial and office space. The Great Recession, however, derailed this development.

Conservation of this property has drawn strong support from county officials in Sarasota, Charlotte, and North Port, as well as from DeSoto County and the Peace River Authority. This broad support recognizes the vital role that the ranch plays not only in keeping the quality of North Port’s supply of drinking water. It also acknowledges its major contribution to the area’s flood protection. Likewise, it presents an opportunity as an ecotourism destination which too serves as a robust marketing platform for Manatee and Sarasota homes for sale.

Buffers of Myakka River

The same benefits can be derived from the preservation of Triangle Ranch and Sheps Island Ranch, whose owner is interested in selling it as a conservation easement only. In the Triangle Ranch’s case, its prospective buyer is committed to the restoration of the property to its more natural state.

Significantly, the Myakka River cuts across some three miles of Triangle Ranch, and its planned restoration will include filling the drainage ditches in the property which were dug to make it more suited to cattle ranching. This ditch-filling in turn will restore sawgrass marshes which will not only provide habitat for wildlife, but also facilitate water filtration and flood control.

Unique Countryside Lifestyle

The moves to safeguard the ecosystem of the Myakka River will particularly benefit and put in the spotlight many residential properties around it, which consists mostly of equestrienne communities. One of these is Hidden River which boasts of a countryside lifestyle that also includes the joys of flying.

A private, gated community, it is home not only to horse lovers but also to private pilots, being the only neighborhood with its own landing strip for light aircraft. Planes, in fact, have priority on the roads of Hidden River which has just 108 properties on its 781-acre enclave. Current listings of Sarasota homes for sale in this community start around the low $500s for three-bedroom homes with a front seat to a natural environment zealously being guarded in Sarasota and Manatee.