CHADDS FORD, PA – The North American Land Trust (NALT) today announced that it recently reached an agreement with the City Council of Naples, Florida, and The Athens Group to permanently protect 104.6 acres along Florida’s Gulf Coast for recreation and open space through a conservation easement.
“We are happy to assist the City of Naples in meeting its goal of keeping this important community resource protected forever from future development for housing or commercial spaces,” said NALT President Steven Carter. “This is great news for the citizens of Naples, many of whom expressed their support for protecting this vulnerable open space.”
Naples Mayor Teresa Heitmann said, “The conservation easement identifies North American Land Trust as the holder of the conservation easement and provides the City with rights of enforcement as a successor holder. We are proud to partner with NALT in the recordation of the conservation easement.”
The Athens Group in 2019 agreed to create a perpetual easement as part of its redevelopment plan for the former Naples Beach Hotel and Golf Club. Under the plan, the conservation easement will protect approximately 84% of the 125-acre property forever as recreation and open space.
“The conservation easement is the result of a complex, innovative and historic collaboration, among a dedicated team consisting of The Athens Group, the City of Naples, and the North American Land Trust,” said Jay Newman, the developer’s chief operating officer. “This will serve as a proud legacy for generations of Naples residents to come, as well as a model of conservation and collaboration for other communities.”
Carter said Ken Hart of Ausley McMullen, a law firm hired by City Council, in early 2021 contacted NALT saying the city was in search of an experienced land trust to work with City Council and the developer on a conservation easement. Carter said the Naples City Council sought to engage a professional land trust to add an extra layer of protection for the golf course and open space.
As a national land trust, NALT partners with municipalities across the country to permanently protect environmental, historic, agricultural, and scenic conservation areas. For each easement, NALT’s field biologists and conservation experts study the land to establish and record the environmental qualities of the conserved land. NALT conservation experts then monitor the conservation areas to ensure that conditions preventing development are being honored.
NALT protects more than 136,000 acres at 550 conservation areas in 24 states. Conservation easements place permanent deed restrictions on development and have been authorized under state and federal law for nearly 50 years.
More information on NALT and its conservation work is available on the NALT website.