Gov. Ron DeSantis and the state Cabinet on Tuesday approved paying more than $15 million to buy and preserve nearly 5,700 acres of land in South Florida and near the Georgia border in separate deals. The bigger of the two Florida Forever program purchases calls for spending $14.775 million to buy 5,534 acres within an area of Hendry County known as the Devil’s Garden.
The land owned by Alico, Inc., is part of an overall 82,995 acres targeted for the Florida Forever program in Hendry and Collier counties. With Tuesday’s approval, 65,774 acres remain to be purchased, according to Cabinet agenda information. While the focus of Tuesday’s acquisition was a western portion of the land used primarily for cattle grazing, Devil’s Garden is named after a wetland slough in the eastern portion of the overall project.
The property has included endangered Florida panthers and other threatened plants and animals. Meanwhile, in North Florida, DeSantis and the Cabinet approved spending $518,000 for a 106-acre dry valley known as the Ichetucknee Trace, which runs north and east of Ichetucknee Springs. The land is being acquired from Bar D Ranch Partnership.