WK Preservation Group: Time is Critical for the West Klosterman Preserve

by | Jun 29, 2022 | Community, Environment | 0 comments

In 2020, a group of Pinellas County residents joined together with a mission to save the West Klosterman Preserve, and they’re almost out of time.

The Pinellas County School Board has owned this 14-acre parcel of land in Tarpon Springs for over 30 years. A few years ago, the school board decided to sell the parcel, and a developer offered to buy it to clear the land and build multifamily housing on the property.

Upon learning this, Kay and Tex Carter worked with other community members to organize the WK Preservation Group, a registered Florida charity. The group offered to buy the West Klosterman parcel. After about a year of convincing, the school board allotted time to raise money to purchase the property and preserve the natural land.

Tex explains that PCF played an essential role in this process. Partnering with PCF gave the group the foundation needed to convince the school board to sign a sales contract and grant a fundraising opportunity.

Earlier this year, the Florida Legislature passed a budget appropriation that would give WKPG the funds needed to purchase the preserve. State Representative Chris Latvala sponsored the appropriation and expressed confidence that the money would make it to the group. However, on June 2, Governor Ron DeSantis vetoed the project from the state budget, leaving WKPG to raise the $3 million on its own.

So far, the group has raised over $525,000, and the current fundraising deadline is July 1, 2022. Tex and Kay believe the promise of governmental aid slowed donations from the public in the last few months, but now, they are back in full-fundraising mode. The preserve is too valuable to be bulldozed.

The West Klosterman parcel connects to the larger 76-acre Mariner’s Point Management Area. It’s part of the remaining 1% of original natural space in Pinellas County and home to more than 60 endangered or threatened native Florida species. Tex explains that removing the West Klosterman preserve would not only remove all of the wildlife and habitat in that area but also negatively impact wildlife in Mariner’s Point.

Kay Carter says that the fundraising project has shown her how important it is to protect these lands. “It’s ours to save today,” she says, “once it’s destroyed, it’s gone.” The project also demonstrates the value of community support and environmental advocacy. If the community hadn’t spoken up, WKPG would not have had the chance to save this land. This experience has taught Kay that “there is power in your voice.”

“Environmental stewardship is critical to our community’s well-being, both today and tomorrow. Protecting natural habitats is an eternal reminder that we — humans, plants, and animals — are all connected”, says Duggan Cooley, CEO of Pinellas Community Foundation. “As we have seen with the success of the Gladys Douglas Preserve, individuals, foundations, nonprofits, and governmental agencies working together will drive results.”

The best ways to help save the West Klosterman Preserve are to spread the word and donate at whatever level you feel comfortable. With your help, we can work together to protect these native Florida grounds.

Help Save the WK Preserve

You can provide support or learn more about the effort. Act before July 1, 2022, to save this important natural habitat from destruction.

For more information on gifts of stock, matching or conditional gifts, contact a PCF giving specialist at 727-306-3142.