545-Acre Conservation Project Approved for East Navarre

Posted on October 13, 2022 by Romi White

Santa Rosa District 4 Commissioner Dave Piech’s effort to bring a 545-acre park to East Navarre have come to fruition. Piech has been working with local developer Bobby Killingsworth and state and federal agencies on the land acquisition near East River to provide more green spaces in East Navarre.

During today’s county commission meeting the board approved allocating $1.8 million in American Rescue Act funding to cover a funding shortfall for a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund Recovery Land Acquisition grant.

The board back on March 24 had authorized staff to coordinate with the Trust for Public Land and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to prepare a grant application to acquire and conserve the acreage in perpetuity. The board also authorized a 25% matching commitment from the county.

However, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission later advised the county that the grant application, funded through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, had a shortfall between the Federal award and the total acquisition cost.

The total acquisition cost is expected to be $3,062,757 and the grant award will be for $1,263,400.

Thus, the action today was necessary to move the project forward.

The future park is planned to be named in honor of Killingsworth’s father-in-law Jim Parker and Parker’s dad, Orion Parker, who were early developers of the Navarre Community.

“Navarre has been good to us,” Killingsworth has stated. “It’s nice to preserve some property for public use for the long term.”

The parcels are designated critical habitat for endangered species, including the red-cockaded woodpecker and reticulate flatwoods salamander, as well as threatened species, including Indigo snakes and Gopher tortoises but will eventually include trails.