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County buys 68 acres of Manatee River waterfront property

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  • | 5:00 a.m. December 19, 2023
Manatee County bought 68 acres along the Manatee River as part of a preservation effort.
Manatee County bought 68 acres along the Manatee River as part of a preservation effort.
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Manatee County is buying a 68-acre parcel of riverfront land in Parrish in order to preserve it.

Manatee County commissioners voted unanimously Dec. 12 to buy Crooked River Ranch along the Manatee River for $11.2 million. In a statement, the county said the property “will provide for coastal resiliency, water quality protection/improvement and native habitat protection/improvement.”

The piece of land is between Interstate 75 and Fort Hamer Road and gives the county rights to one of the last remaining sizable, privately owned parcels along the river, according to the statement.

Manatee made the purchase through its Environmental Lands Program, which allows the use of tax money to buy, improve and manage land to protect natural resources and for parks.

The county said conserving the property will benefit manatees that graze on vegetation along the shoreline as well provide a habitat for birds, including roseate spoonbills and wood storks.

Elizabeth Hunter Skidmore, whose family has owned the property, said in the statement that the sale honors “the wishes of my parents who envisioned a future where this land flourishes untouched.”

"Crooked River Ranch is not merely a piece of real estate," she said. "It was my father’s therapy."

Manatee staff has been working on the deal with the family and the Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast for several months, and the sale is expected to close early next year.

“It checks every box,” Commissioner Kevin Van Ostenbridge said in the release. “There is a feeling that Parrish is ‘Old Florida,’ and we are trying to preserve pieces of that for those kids that are moving into that area.”

“This is a huge win for our citizens, our county and the environment,” Commissioner James Satcher said. “This was an overwhelming decision by the voters in 2020 for this purpose.”


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