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

By 2016, Indian River land Trust and its partners had conserved an almost contiguous 8-mile stretch of land along the west shore of the lagoon. When one of the last remaining privately-owned and undeveloped parcels of land came up for sale–29 acres directly abutting the Trust’s 191-acre Coastal Oaks Preserve–Indian River Land Trust staff and board knew they needed to move fast. Our Conservation Loans program provided bridge financing, enabling the Trust to purchase the property in 2017. Serving as an important link for plants and animals between the lagoon and upland conservation lands to the west, the property contains remnant hardwood forest and was historically used for citrus production.