Putnam County has a special beauty. With one of the state’s largest rivers, as well as hundreds of lakes, ponds, streams, and swamps, we are a county with bountiful natural resources. We have high and dry sandhills and pine flatwoods interspersed with cypress domes. Bear, deer, and turkeys wander our woods, and our fishing is legendary.
Putnam County also has incomparable agricultural lands, stands of timber that grow strong and straight, and communities of people who rely on natural resources to make their living. All of this is threatened by the type of development patterns that have swept through South Florida and other areas, which we now find at our doorstep.
High quality development that fits into the character of our communities is always welcome. But we must plan carefully for this growth and reduce its negative impacts by preserving clean water and natural areas while we can. We must preserve working farms and ranches, as well as land and water for hiking and fishing opportunities, bike trails, and wildlife habitat.
A group of your neighbors has formed the Putnam Land Conservancy. This non-profit charity is a local land trust whose mission is to protect the natural, historic, scenic, and recreational resources in and around Putnam County.
Land trusts are local or regional non-profit organizations that work to preserve land that is important to their community. Nearly 1,200 land trusts now operate in every state in the nation and have helped protect over 2.7 million acres.
Land trusts purchase land or acquire it through donation. They also work to secure voluntary land preservation agreements with private landowners. Land preservation agreements keep land in private hands and preserve traditional land uses, such as family farming and ranching. Land trusts do all this without increasing local taxes.
Land trusts work in partnership with private and governmental agencies. They raise money by applying for grants from foundations, government agencies, and corporations. Land trusts in neighboring counties often work together and in cooperation with national conservation organizations. Surrounding counties like Clay, Alachua, St John’s, and Volusia have established land trusts that have protected thousands of acres.
This exciting new way of protecting land is a win – win proposition. Most of Putnam County’s landowners are not developers; they simply need to be able to cash out the value of their land. Land trust agreements can help them do that while they continue to live on and work their land.
Growth is here. Within ten years the Putnam County we currently know will almost certainly be unrecognizable. We must to act now to protect our lakes, rivers, natural areas, and wildlife habitat for future generations. Unless we act now, many of our beautiful natural areas will disappear before our children and grandchildren have a chance to enjoy them.
Please join the farmers, ranchers, hunters, fishermen, conservationists, parents and grandparents at the Putnam Land Conservancy and help protect our quality of life. Come to our fundraisers, consider donating your time, or ask about setting up a voluntary land preservation agreement. Help preserve Putnam County’s natural areas for everyone.
For more information, call the PLC at (386) 336-5400.