Project Moving Forward: Cabinet Votes to Protect 1,400 acres in Madison County

1,400 acres added to Sampala Lake land protection project

The Conservation Trust for Florida, a leader in statewide conservation, announced that a second property will be protected this year as part of its Sampala Lake land protection project in Madison County.

 Photo by Randy Batista. Lake Sampala,  the historical site of San Pedro y San Pablo de Protohiriba on Lake Sampala – one of the five missions established by the Spanish between 1609 and 1655.

Photo by Randy Batista. Lake Sampala,  the historical site of San Pedro y San Pablo de Protohiriba on Lake Sampala – one of the five missions established by the Spanish between 1609 and 1655.

State officials voted to fund the purchase of a conservation easement on an additional 1,400 acres of land within the project boundaries, bringing the number of acres to be protected as part of this project to 2,172.

The property, owned by the Adams Ranch, will be protected by a conservation easement, which allows the land to stay in private ownership while permanently protecting its conservation and cultural values. The easement will be purchased by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (DACS) via its Rural and Family Lands Protection Program (RFLPP).  

Adams Ranch is proud to partner with the Florida Forest Service and Conservation Trust for Florida to protect the north side of Sampala Lake and the hub of our company’s beef operations in North Florida. This transaction continues our tradition and the vision of Alto “Bud” Adams, Jr. to work with state and federal agencies to sustain our agricultural operations and natural resources into the future.
— LeeAnn Adams Simmons

In March, officials authorized the protection of the first portion of this project -- the 772-acre Sampala Lake Ranch, owned by the Koblegard family. 

The lake is the historical site of San Pedro y San Pablo de Protohiriba on Lake Sampala – one of the five missions established by the Spanish between 1609 and 1655.

“This will be the forty-fourth easement that DACS has acquired since 2010, which will bring the total acres protected by the Program to approximately 49,081 acres” said John Browne, land programs administrator with the RFLPP. “This addition to the Sampala Lake project continues our tradition of sustaining family-owned agricultural properties that add value to Florida’s large conservation landscapes.”

The property has been used for agriculture, ranching, and forestry for over 80 years. It is now a cattle/calf operation that also contains high-quality wetlands, provides aquifer recharge benefits and extends wildlife corridors.

“Adams Ranch is proud to partner with the Florida Forest Service and Conservation Trust for Florida to protect the north side of Sampala Lake and the hub of our company’s beef operations in North Florida," said LeeAnn Adams Simmons. "This transaction continues our tradition and the vision of Alto “Bud” Adams, Jr. to work with state and federal agencies to sustain our agricultural operations and natural resources into the future.” 

“Conservation Trust for Florida is dedicated to safeguarding Florida’s natural and agricultural landscapes, and protecting land that supports Florida’s family farms and ranches,” said Traci Deen, CFL’s executive director. “This project completes the Sampala Lake landscape, and in doing so truly protects a piece of Florida history forever. The Sampala Lake project is really something special.”

Sampala Lake is a 115-acre, spring-fed lake that is home to many aquatic species, including large-mouth bass and panfish. It is also used by black bear, deer, coyotes, turkeys, fox squirrels, wood ducks, and various water fowl. It is part of the headwaters of the Econfina River, and it is important for flood control and sediment reduction.

CTF worked with the Adams family throughout the RFLPP process and advocated for funding for the project.

CTF is currently working on 23 projects across the state totaling 180,966 acres.

Conservation Florida