Pasco County is spending nearly $22 million on its largest-ever environmental land purchase, preserving two critical wildlife corridors in an area that is rapidly developing.
Pasco's Board of County Commissioners unanimously approved the $21.9 million purchase of 843 acres last week. The property is near the southeastern corner of the Suncoast Parkway and State Road 52 in Land O’ Lakes.
“(This is) the largest purchase and sale agreement in eLAMP (Environmental Land Acquisition and Management Program) history” said Keith Wiley, Pasco’s director of parks, recreation and natural resources, at the meeting.
The land acquisition program was created in 2004 and has since preserved about 3,800 acres of environmentally sensitive lands.
This latest acquisition will protect the floodplains of the Pithlachascotee River and Five Mile Creek. It will also preserve critical forested, flatwoods and upland communities.
"It is a wonderful addition to the eLAMP program," said Pasco County Commissioner Kathryn Starkey. "Those two corridors connect massive amounts of land to each other and it's very important for environmental sustainability for the animals that live in those two large land masses."
The county is purchasing the land from the Bexley family and Len-Angeline, a company owned by Lennar, the nation's largest home builder. The transaction is expected close by the end of the year, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
Part of the land is currently being used for cattle grazing, which will be allowed to continue without fee until December 2020.
The deal also calls for a portion of the land to be set aside for a county park, with Len-Angeline paying $3 million towards the design and development.