Indian River Land Trust, Florida
Students plant red mangroves to help stabilize the shoreline at Bee Gum Point. Photo courtesy Indian River Land Trust.
Florida’s picturesque Indian River Lagoon attracts a third of Florida’s endangered manatees, 350 species of birds, thousands of animal and plant varieties, and plenty of sun-loving humans. This last group is responsible for a building boom that has gobbled up all but a few remaining undeveloped pieces of coastline.
But when the real estate bubble burst in 2008, the Indian River Land Trust suddenly had an opportunity to purchase coastal land on the lagoon at sharply lower prices. A well-timed $3 million loan from The Conservation Fund helped make that happen.
With our support, the Trust purchased Bee Gum Point, a 111-acre peninsula containing the largest undeveloped, yet unprotected, stretch of wetlands in the area. As a result, what could have become more houses is now scenic waterfront being managed for wildlife habitat and public education.
“After the economy crashed, it was very difficult to obtain funding from a commercial lender. Our commitment from The Conservation Fund allowed us to work with the developer to acquire the land, knowing that we could pay for it. The Fund not only looked at our ability to pay, but also at the conservation value of what we were doing and the potential for raising the money from other partners. This allowed us to leap into a large land deal at a time when real estate prices were at a generational low.” — Ken Grudens, Executive Director