Water-Related News

Bellini Preserve now open to the public

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BARTOW – The Bellini Preserve, a parcel of conservation land located on the eastern shore of Lake Marion, adjacent to Poinciana, is now open to the public. The public entrance can be found at the intersection of Pine Street and Lake Marion Creek Drive.

While the Bellini Preserve is largely comprised of undeveloped scrubland, it’s seven miles of trails lead visitors through a variety of terrain and habitats, culminating in a lakeside view.

“The Bellini Preserve is an excellent example of a partnership conservation project,” said Gaye Sharpe, Parks and Natural Resources Division director. “It brought together non-profit, local, state and federal funding to acquire approximately 640 acres of land along the eastern shore of Lake Marion.”

Polk County purchased the land for $7.5 million in September 2023 to protect it from development. The purchase was part of an agreement between the county, Conservation Florida and the Department of Defense, with funding assistance from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Resilient Florida grant program.

The county’s purchase of the Bellini Preserve will protect more than three miles of Lake Marion’s shoreline from development, reducing pollution and improving water quality. The property is home to sand skinks, a federally threatened species, and gopher tortoises, a regionally and state-designated threatened species.

“This project highlights the success of Polk County’s commitment to caring for our water and natural resources,” Sharpe said. “It protects the native lake shoreline, providing nature-based water quality improvement solutions for our lakes, rivers and natural areas while building more resilient communities. Safeguarding our water resources was a priority for this project.”