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Robinson Preserve Set to Expand by 150 Acres

The county approved a plan to expand the preserve while allowing for development on 50-acres nearby.

Manatee County Commissioners entered an agreement with the Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast Tuesday that could one day expand Robinson Preserve by 150-acres, while allowing the Robinson family to build up to 50 homes on 50-acres. 

Future plans call for enhanced educational, recreational and environmental benefits such as additional wetland and upland restoration, construction of an environmental center, trails, boardwalks, pedestrian bridges, a playground and more.

The parcel, located at the preserve’s southwest corner, is now owned by Robinson Farms, Inc. The Foundation, a Florida non-profit corporation, will assist in raising funds to purchase the land and will then to convey it to the County for future restoration.

The foundation works with landowners, businesses and governments to protect and preserve the beauty and natural integrity of the bays, beaches and barrier islands of the Florida Gulf Coast.

The owners had planned to use 200 acres to build a residential development with a country club, but Manatee County Natural Resources Director Charlie Hunsicker told Commissioners that the county wanted to land to remain a valuable coastal habitat. 

“We have the opportunity today to acquire land that will have great value for this generation and generations to come,” Hunsicker said.

Robinson Preserve is a 487-acre natural preserve along the Manatee River and Perico Bayou that attracts more than 300,000 visitors a year. Manatee County purchased the property in 2002 for $10 million, later investing more than $11 million in grants and county funds to establish an award-winning property for habitat conservation and passive recreation.

Visit the Natural Resources area under www.mymanatee.org or call (941) 748-4501. You can also follow the department on Facebook.

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