Rattlesnake Key purchase survives as Gov. DeSantis signs budget
Rattlesnake Key. Image via Fox 13 Tampa Bay.

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The state will pay $23M to preserve the island.

One of the largest coastal land acquisitions made it into the $109.9 billion budget signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis. The state will contribute $23 million for the purchase of Rattlesnake Key.

“I am so pleased that the budget signed by Gov. DeSantis includes important priorities for the Manatee-Sarasota area, including funds to acquire Rattlesnake Key,” said Rep. Will Robinson, a Bradenton Republican. “We will now be able to permanently protect one of the most environmentally sensitive areas located in pristine Terra Ceia Bay.”

The island, south of the Sunshine Skyway in the Tampa Bay region, will become a state park accessible only by boat.

That $23 million expenditure represents one of the biggest local spending items in the state to make the final cut. Sen. Jim Boyd, a Bradenton Republican, had made budgeting money for the ecological treasure a chief priority this Legislative Session.

“Overall our community did very well in the budget,” he said. “I’m extremely excited about the preservation of Rattlesnake Key for future generations to enjoy.”

Robinson originally sought just a $2.5 million state grant to help with the purchase. But with a surplus of federal dollars budgeted after the COVID-19 pandemic, a much larger amount made it into the budget passed by the Legislature. Late last year, Manatee County Commissioners voted to contribute up to $3 million toward the purchase price.

The money will be used to “finance the acquisition, improvement, and management of land to protect drinking water sources and water quality; preserve fish and wildlife; provide park and recreation for all Floridians; provide land acquisition as an alternative to commercial development.”

The island itself has been identified as a target acquisition for the Florida Forever program and has been eyed for purchase since 1996. It’s considered by officials to be a project of regional importance well beyond Manatee County. Located closest to the Terra Ceia community, it will be accessible from around Tampa Bay.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected]



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