TARPON SPRINGS, Fla. — Time is running out in an effort to preserve 14-acres of wilderness in Tarpon Springs.
Neighbors say the land on West Klosterman Road near the southern boundary of Tarpon Springs is worth preserving because various species of plant and animal life can be found on it.
“You can walk through there, and you can feel that it has been untouched and uninhabited for over 100 years, and it has an authenticity to it that’s just really wonderful,” said one of the neighbors, W.L. “Tex” Carter. “When you go there, you’re seeing nature in its original state.”
Carter helped found the WK Preservation Group Inc. earlier this year to advocate for saving the land, which was bought by Pinellas County Schools in 1990. In Jan. 2020, the school board deemed the land unnecessary to education and decided to release it for sale.
Carter, the president of the preservation group, said developers hope to buy the land to build condominiums.
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So, concerned about losing the pristine forest and gaining the additional traffic a development would create, Carter and others got together with the school board and struck a deal in June 2021.
If the WK Preservation Group can raise $3.2 million before July 1, 2022, they can buy the land and donate it to the county as a nature preserve.
“I’m always nervous about the outcome, but I’m confident that people really are going to come alongside and help us do this because it’s a worthwhile goal for pretty much everybody in the county,” Carter said. “The developers would do what they normally do. They would bulldoze it. All the trees, all the plants, all the animals that are…native and living in this ecosystem would be displaced for concrete and pavement.”
To date, the group has raised about $350,000.
Despite the remaining fundraising challenge, Carter is optimistic.
In recent weeks, the nonprofit has received help from 138 new donors. Last week, local leaders took notice of the preservation effort. Carter and others gave Pinellas County Commissioner Dave Eggers and Tarpon Springs Vice Mayor Jacob Karr a tour of the site.
“The momentum that is built and the contacts that have been made just in the last six weeks, we are seeing a lot of progress and gives me more reason for confidence and optimism that we can go ahead and get to the goal,” he said.
You can read more about the fundraising effort at this link.