Background and History
Sarasota County's Environmentally Sensitive Lands Protection Program (ESLPP) and Neighborhood Parkland Acquisition Program (NPP) are voter-approved and taxpayer-funded programs designed to acquire and protect natural lands and parklands.
- In March 1999, voters approved the ESLPP to protect native habitats by not more than 0.25 mil ad valorem tax collected through 2019.
- In November 2005, voters approved a second referendum extending the program through 2029 and expanding the county’s land protection efforts to include neighborhood parkland acquisitions.
We also acquire land through other means, including grants, donations, partnerships and conservation easements. Citizens who wish to nominate land to be considered for county acquisition may complete a nomination form (link).
Eligibility and Criteria
To be considered under the Environmentally Sensitive or Neighborhood Parkland Programs, a property must have a willing seller.
- The criteria for considering parkland acquisitions include location, broad community access, proximity and connectedness, natural features, cultural features, compatible community needs and water access.
- The criteria considered for environmental acquisitions are rarity, quality, connectivity, manageability and water quality benefits.
- The nomination form may be used for either program and contains more details with regards to the criteria.
More about our ESLPP preserves
Sarasota County's protected lands provide safe habitat for many threatened and native species including gopher tortoises, Florida scrub-jays, bobcats, eagles and migrant birds. Acquisition and protection of these lands ensures that their environmentally sensitive nature and habitats will be there for future generations.
Acquiring Land for Neighborhood Parks
In 2005, Sarasota County voters overwhelmingly approved adding ESLPP's sister program, Neighborhood Parklands Acquisition Program, to create new recreational opportunities to showcase Sarasota County's natural environment and cultural heritage. The intent was to optimize opportunities and more efficiently acquire parklands and other open space for the increasing population while providing accessible facilities, diverse programs, increased water and beach access, and connectivity within parks for pedestrians and bicyclists.
The program has made efforts to acquire numerous parcels throughout the county, including in incorporated areas.
- Sarasota County has partnered in the past with non-profit land protection organizations such as The Nature Conservancy, the Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast and NorthStar to assist with environmental land acquisitions under the county's Environmentally Sensitive Lands Protection Program.
- ESLPP has identified and established 31 diverse and environmentally sensitive areas/regions throughout the county for possible acquisition.
- ESLPP has protected over 35,000 acres of land through land purchases and conservation easements.
- ESLPP has purchased 71 properties with environmentally sensitive land.
- NPP has acquired 71 acres of parkland to provide additional water and trail access, expand existing parks, and meet growing population and changing demographic needs.
- NPP has purchased 17 properties for parks expanding existing parks and connecting people to trails, waterways and beaches.
The Environmentally Sensitive Lands Oversight Committee and the Parks Advisory and Recreation Council are the two advisory boards authorized by the Sarasota County Commission to review nominated properties and make recommendations for land protection.
Sarasota County Government
Attn: Land Nominations
1660 Ringling Blvd., Fifth Floor
Sarasota, FL 34236
For information on the county’s Environmental and Parkland Acquisition Program, call 941-861-5000.