Manatee County finalizes purchase for Johnson Preserve at Braden River

Manatee County finalizes purchase for Johnson Preserve at Braden River
Posted on 05/22/2018

MANATEE COUNTY, FL (May 22, 2018) – Manatee County Government and the Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast today announced the permanent protection of a 44.5-acre preserve on the Braden River that will be named the Floyd C. Johnson & Flo Singer Johnson Preserve at Braden River.

Over the past six months volunteers, donors, private foundations and the Manatee County Commissioners worked together to find a way to purchase the land, the majority of which was slated for development.

Located on the Braden River east of I-75, the 44.5-acre oasis of nature is home to an amazing diversity of plants and animals not normally seen in similar suburban areas, with mature live oaks, tall long leaf pines, important wetlands that store water preventing flooding, imperiled swallowtail kites and gopher tortoises. The land’s riverfront and floodplain forests are part of a corridor linking natural habitat along the Braden River, which supplies drinking water for the City of Bradenton. 

Empowered by the Floyd C. Johnson & Flo Singer Johnson Foundation’s challenge grant of $500,000, the  Conservation Foundation raised more than $1.29 million toward the $3 million purchase. County Commissioners agreed to fund the remaining $1.7 million. The land purchase was completed today.

The Keep Woods grassroots group worked tirelessly for two years to save this piece of Old Florida, and asked for Conservation Foundation’s help. Conservation Foundation secured the option to purchase the property, raised public awareness and the funds. The Manatee Fish & Game Association was among the first to contribute to the cause.

“This is a true community success. We are humbled by the resounding commitment of the volunteers and donors who responded quickly to our call to action,” said Christine Johnson, president of Conservation Foundation. “We are also thankful to Pat and John Neal of Neal Communities and Neal Land Ventures, whose flexibility, resources and dedication were immensely helpful in making this happen for the residents of Manatee County.”

The additional 11.6 acres were bequeathed to Conservation Foundation by the estate of Carlton Bergstresser, and the foundation pledged to donate this land to the new Johnson Preserve at Braden River. Conservation Foundation will hold a permanent conservation easement on the entire 44.5-acre preserve which is a legal restriction that ensures that the land is protected forever.  

"We appreciate the efforts to build a successful partnership providing for the acquisition of this important riverine environmental area," said Charlie Hunsicker, Manatee County's Parks and Natural Resources Director. "We look forward to working with the Foundation and the community in providing the kinds of passive recreation that respects Mother Nature and the many opportunities to learn much from her on this property."

About Conservation Foundation
Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast saves land, forever, protecting those special natural lands that make this region extraordinary. Working with landowners, businesses, and government, Conservation Foundation protects the character and natural integrity of the bays, beaches, barrier islands and their watersheds on Florida’s Gulf Coast. A nationally accredited land trust, the Foundation purchases natural areas, holds land conservation agreements and educates for responsible land and water stewardship in Manatee, Sarasota, Charlotte and Lee Counties.  Learn more at

For more information on Manatee County Government, visit online at or call (941) 748-4501. You can also follow us on Facebook at and on Twitter, @ManateeGov.