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Business Observer Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012 7 years ago

Group seeks $3M for land buy

A land conservation foundation wants to expand the Robinson Preserve.

BRADENTON — The Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast, through an agreement with Manatee County commissioners, hopes to purchase 150 acres in Robinson Preserve for $3 million by the end of 2012.

The foundation, if it can get the funds by Dec. 31, hopes to expand the preserve, a popular wetlands habitat in northwest Bradenton used by 300,000 residents and tourists a year. The Robinson family currently owns the land. “This is an extraordinary example of the public, private and not-for-profit sectors coming together to do the right thing for the environment and the community,” Conservation Foundation President Christine Johnson says in a release.

Manatee County officials, meanwhile, agreed to oversee and pay for at least $500,000 in improvements if the property is successfully acquired. That includes building an education center, environmental restoration and other amenities. “This is a wonderful gift to and an opportunity for the citizens and visitors of Manatee County,” Manatee County Director of Natural Resources Charlie Hunsicker says in the statement.

A nationally accredited land trust, the foundation has protected more than 8,400 acres on 29 properties from Lee to Manatee County. Johnson acknowledges the deadline for the Robinson Preserve acquisition is pressing, but she's confident the community will come through with donations to reach the $3 million. “It is a tight timeline,” says Johnson, “but we have raced the clock before and won.”

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