Alachua Conservation Trust (ACT) and Alachua County have announced the opening of Serenola Forest Preserve on Saturday, April 13, 2019.
The 111-acre property is home to many threatened plant and wildlife species and is a critical woodland hammock north of Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park. Lying just south of Williston road between Idylwild Elementary school and Oak Hammock retirement community, Serenola serves as an important buffer area to protect the prairie from Gainesville’s urban development. For the past decade, Alachua County and Alachua Conservation Trust have been negotiating the acquisition of Serenola Forest. The land was finally purchased and forever protected this past December.
The purchase of Serenola Forest was made possible due to the passage of the Wild Spaces and Public Places sales tax that was approved by voters in 2016. WSPP funded the Alachua County Forever Program, which paid for the majority of this preserve.
Alachua Conservation Trust’s supporters raised $300,000 in private funds for the purchase of the property. Alachua Conservation Trust will also be managing the day-to-day care of the preserve as well as infrastructure improvements.
Future plans include adding a wildlife viewing platform, information kiosks, benches, walking paths, two trailheads open to the public, and a parking area. The goal is to make the forest as accessible and open to the public as possible while still highlighting its natural beauty and maintaining the area as a wildlife habitat.