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Preservation group wants to buy 14 undeveloped Tarpon acres

Grey Curcio

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West Klosterman Preserve is in danger of being developed. Images provided.

Pinellas County has committed $1.5 million to support the purchase of the 14-acre West Klosterman Preserve in Tarpon Springs, a parcel of undeveloped land adjoining the already existing 76-acre Mariner Point Management Area (MPMA).

Pinellas County Schools currently owns the land, and planned to sell it to housing developers before the West Klosterman Preservation Group stepped in. The 501c3 nonprofit needs to raise an additional $800,000 by September to go through with the purchase.

WK Preservation Group directors Kay and Tex Carter say that this land is extremely important for its unique natural features – and as a part of their community.

Kay Carter

The Carters have been married for over 50 years, first getting involved with the project around five years ago when they moved to Tarpon Springs to be closer to their grandchildren. “We chose to get involved in trying to save this property and as we were enlightened, we saw that Pinellas County’s got a real issue here,” said Kay.

The Carters pointed out that Pinellas County is the most densely populated county in the state, saying “only 1% of the land is to be preserved for the beauty that people thought they were moving to when they moved to Florida.”

Craig N. Huegel, Certified Wildlife Biologist and former director of the Pinellas County Environmental Lands Division, said that the Klosterman land is “of utmost ecological significance” because of the presence of a healthy population of gopher tortoises, a threatened keystone species. A keystone species is an organism that has a disproportionately large impact on the ecosystem around it, functioning as the glue that holds the ecosystem together.

The parcel of land also has an abundance of natural vegetation and forest, specifically sandhill and scrub species, which are both “extremely rare” and “globally imperiled.”

 

If the purchase goes through, the land will be managed by the MPMA. According to Paul Cozzie, Pinellas County Parks and Conservation Resources Director, management efforts will focus on the removal of invasive species and habitat restoration. “That’ll be our initial focus is getting the invasives out of there and making sure that we know which areas may be worthy of extra special protection,” said Cozzie.

WK Preservation Group website https://wkpreserve.com

3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Tex Carter

    May 9, 2024at7:31 pm

    Melina,
    I am a founding member of WK Preservation Group, and yes, I live in Tarpon Cove. WKPG is a nonprofit charity that has over 850 donors and supporters from across Pinellas County and beyond. None of our members who live here feed the wildlife in our neighborhood, none. Some of our misguided neighbors do, but our group is more focused on saving the wildlife and habitat that are rapidly disappering in Pinellas County and Tampa Bay. We are not a group “making noise about…preservation”, we are a group that is making a difference for the community of nature and humanity. We are working hard to ensure that the natural properties are preserved for the plants and animals that live there, and for the good of the people that live around them. If you want an opportunity to make a constructive difference for the environment, please join us. But if not, at least please don’t make false accusations about our members, many of whom have given hundreds of volunteer hours working on the cause of preserving nature and the environment for future generations, and yes, even for the wildlife in our neighborhoods.

  2. Avatar

    Marie Hickman

    May 9, 2024at7:28 pm

    Melina: That kind of behavior exists everywhere,and unless you have witnessed people in those communities who are directly affiliated and volunteer with WKP commit those acts, your point is invalid.

  3. Avatar

    Melina Zoya

    May 9, 2024at10:32 am

    Ironically,this group making noise about the preservation of this property is living adjacent, in Tarpon Cove Condominiums and Mariner Village Condominiums, and refuses to protect wildlife in their own neighborhood by allowing many residents to feed the wildlife non-stop daily, mostly directly in front of posted signage that says not to feed the wildlife. The wild birds no longer can be self sufficient or teach their offspring to eat what nature intends for them to eat. So many people are throwing all kinds of people food at them that it doesn’t all get consumed, so rats are attracted to the property, then snakes and coyotes come for the rodents. These “concerned citizens” are hypocrites with limited understanding of how nature works. Someone needs to call them out for endangering and abusing wildlife.

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