County receives $1.5 million grant for amenities at Lake May Reserve

Lake County Commissioner Leslie Campione, right, accepts a grant check at state Department of Environmental Protection offices in Tallahassee. // DEP photo

The Lake May Reserve in Lake County is going to be better than ever thanks to a new state grant.

The state Department of Environmental Protection’s Florida Communities Trust recently awarded more than $6 million in grants to Lake, Hillsborough, and Indian River counties to help acquire more than 700 acres of land for conservation and outdoor recreation, according to a news release.

Lake County’s share is $1.5 million, which will be used for new amenities at Lake May Reserve, 36300 County Road 44A, Eustis. New additions will include hiking trails, picnic areas, outdoor education facilities, an observation platform, and a floating canoe/kayak launch.

County Commissioner Leslie Campione visited Tallahassee to accept the ceremonial check.

“We are thrilled to have received a generous grant from the Florida Communities Trust to develop amenities and provide landscape improvements at the Lake May Reserve public land,” she says in the release. “These additional features, such as canoe and kayak launch, picnic pavilion, and trail, will attract both area residents and visitors to the property to experience Lake County’s natural resources and quality of life.”

Hillsborough County’s grant will be used to acquire land at Lake Dan Preserve and help protect natural resources that provide recreation such as hiking, wildlife viewing, and equestrian trail riding. In Indian River County, the acquisition of the Sebastian Harbor Preserve protects key wildlife habitats, including those of nesting bald eagles, ospreys, Florida scrub-jays and sandhill cranes, and provides economic benefits to the community as a readily accessible ecotourism destination.

“The collaborative efforts between FCT and our local stakeholders are represented through these projects,” David Clark, DEP deputy secretary for land and recreation, says in the release. “I thank our partners for continued commitment to achieve land acquisitions that promote conservation and protection of Florida.”

The Florida Communities Trust assists communities in protecting important natural resources, providing recreational opportunities, and preserving the state’s traditional working waterfronts. The trust is funded by the Florida Forever Program, a conservation and recreation lands acquisition program.