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County's Newest Nature Preserve Now Ready for Visitors

The Bellini Preserve Borders Lake Marion

Less than two years after Polk County voters approved a renewal of the county's conservation lands program knownpreserve site has as CLASAC, yet another newly-acquired site has opened to the public.

Courtesy Polk County Natural Resources

Bordering Lake Marion, Polk County's newest environmental land acquisition was purchased in cooperation with other agencies.

The Bellini Preserve, located on the eastern shore of Lake Marion adjacent to Poinciana, is largely comprised of undeveloped scrubland, according to county officials, The seven miles of trails on the preserve lead visitors through a variety of terrain and habitats, culminating in a lakeside view of Lake Marion, which covers 3,021 acres. The public entrance can be found at the intersection of Pine Street and Lake Marion Creek Drive.

"The Bellini Preserve is an excellent example of a partnership conservation project," said , Parks and Natural Resources Division Director Gaye Sharpe. "It brought together non-profit, local, state and federal funding to acquire approximately 640 acres of land along the eastern shore of Lake Marion."

Courtesy Polk County Natural Resources

Seven miles of trails lead visitors through a variety of terrain and habitats, culminating in a lakeside view of Lake Marion at the Bellini Preserve.

Polk County purchased the land for $7.5 million in September 2023 to protect it from development. The purchase was part of an agreement between the county's CLASAC program, Conservation Florida, and the Department of Defense, with funding assistance from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection's Resilient Florida grant program.

The county's purchase of the Bellini Preserve protects more than three miles of Lake Marion's shoreline from development, reducing pollution and improving water quality. The property is home to sand skinks, a federally threatened species, and gopher tortoises, a regionally and state-designated threatened species, as well as many other types of wildlife.

Courtesy Polk County Natural Resources

The Bellini Preserve features a wide variety of native ecosystem habitats hosting a wide variety of species. Sandhill, flatwoods, scrub, wetlands, and littoral habitatrs may all be found along the trails.

"This project highlights the success of Polk County's commitment to caring for our water and natural resources," Sharpe said. "It protects the native lake shoreline, providing nature-based water quality improvement solutions for our lakes, rivers and natural areas while building more resilient communities. Safeguarding our water resources was a priority for this project."


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