Water-Related News

A critical stretch of the Florida Wildlife Corridor is preserved in Polk County

The land will be called the Bellini Preserve, in honor of Tampa-based businessman and environmentalist Arnie Bellini.

A rare stretch of wild land in eastern Polk County has been preserved through a partnership between a conservation group and a Tampa-based philanthropist.

It's 639 acres of hardwood forests, scrublands, freshwater marshlands and swamplands. It includes 3½ miles of shoreline along Lake Marion.

The land was bought by businessman Arnie Bellini when it unexpectedly came on the market in 2020. He held onto it until a financing deal could be worked out with the nonprofit group Conservation Florida.

It will be called the Bellini Preserve.

“The Bellini Family loves the wild places of Florida and wanted to preserve this beautiful and ecologically sensitive land for the citizens of Florida,” Arnie Bellini said in a prepared statement. “Polk County residents deserve to keep this land as part of their heritage and enjoy it forever as a new Polk County park.”

After the deal approval by the Polk County Commission, the land is to become an environmental park for public use and recreation.