The Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast has announced the permanent protection of14.38 acres in Manatee County. This newly protected land is located between Manatee County’s Braden River Park to the south and the Honi Hanta Girl Scout Camp to the north and east. The protection was made possible due to a conservation easement donation from the property’s owner, Bunny Garst, in honor of her late husband, Judge Claflin Garst, Jr. It was completed on Dec. 30, 2021. The property was subsequently sold to the adjoining landowners, James and Mary Parks, for continued grazing and other limited agricultural use subject to the conservation easement.
The protection of this land is the first step in a larger initiative to permanently conserve an additional 58 acres currently owned by Garst and is part of Conservation Foundation’s ongoing effort to protect the remaining natural and agricultural lands along Gap Creek and the Braden River.The Garst property is located within the Manatee River and Tampa Bay watersheds. It filters rain and surface water runoff, helping to clean the water before entering the Manatee River and ultimately Tampa Bay. It also prevents flooding in Manatee County by storing rain and surface water runoff. Conserving this land permanently protects habitat suitable for a variety of natural communities, including multiple species of grassland birds which are in steep decline locally and nationwide.
The donation of this land was made possible with a grant from the Bill and Mary Muirhead Fund of the Community Foundation of Sarasota County.