North Florida Land Trust has received a donation of 137 acres of highly valuable conservation land from the Cummer family. The property is legacy land held by the Cummer family for several generations and will now be known as the Cummer Family Land Trust Preserve. It was part of the family’s original purchases when they moved the focus of their timber operations from Michigan to Florida at the end of the 19th century. Wellington Cummer, who died away in 2005, described the property as the “most beautiful property the family owned.”
The donated land is composed of several tracts along the Withlacoochee River in both Sumter and Citrus County. The acquisition preserved several miles of river frontage between the Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge and the Flying Eagle Ranch Wildlife Refuge.
“This land has a lot of old growth cypress swamp with many of the cypress trees larger than three or four feet in diameter,” said Marc Hudson, Land Protection Director at NFLT. “There are some big old cypress five and six feet wide, and a few monsters greater than six feet in diameter.”
When surveying the property for the first time, one large tree made Hudson stop in his tracks. “I’ve been pushing around cypress swamps in the Southeastern U.S. for 10 years and I have never seen an unrecorded cypress tree this big before,” said Hudson. “The big tree’s dimensions are eight to 10 feet wide and it casts a canopy big enough to rival the largest live oaks.”
Aside from the old growth forest, the tracts protect several large bays on the Withlacoochee River known as Lake Annie, Lake Nelson and Bonnet Lake, and part of the Gum Slough Spring Run. The Withlacoochee has been designated by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection as an Outstanding Florida Water for its water quality and wild nature. The parcels will also help maintain the wild experience of the boaters, canoers and kayakers on the Withlacoochee State Paddling Trail.
“This is an example of how North Florida Land Trust can help a land owner preserve the property they love for future generations to enjoy,” said NFLT Executive Director Jim McCarthy. “While this property is outside of our seven county focus area, Cheryl Cummer has been a longtime supporter of the North Florida Land Trust and we were glad to assist her and the family with this project.”
About North Florida Land Trust
North Florida Land Trust is a non-profit organization who serves as a champion of land conservation primarily in Baker, Clay, Duval, Flagler, Nassau, Putnam, and St. Johns counties. NFLT was founded in 1999 and has protected thousands of acres of environmentally significant land including land at Big Talbot Island, the River Branch Preserve, Pumpkin Hill, Moccasin Slough, along the St. Mary’s River and other valued natural areas in Northeast Florida. NFLT is funded largely by private and corporate contributions and works closely with private landowners and other public agencies at all levels of government, not-for-profit partners, and foundations. For more information, visit www.northfloridalandtrust.org.