SVN | SRD's Dean Saunders Closes Over $36M in Conservation Easement Deals to Protect Florida's Rural Land

October 26, 2023   |   Conservation Easements
conservation land with trees

Dean Saunders represents landowners to protect over 17,000 acres of Florida land with conservation easements.

LAKELAND, FL, October 26, 2023 - As the appetite to protect Florida’s land continues to grow, a number of landowners have sold 16,720 acres of land for approximately $36 million to the State of Florida, which will place restrictions on future development.

Under these transactions, represented by Dean Saunders, the founder of SVN | Saunders Ralston Dantzler, landowners retain ownership and agricultural use of land in exchange for selling the property’s development rights. This will ensure the land won’t be developed in the future, helping protect wildlife and agriculture forever. So far this year, the Governor DeSantis and the Legislature has approved to purchase more than $97 million for land conservation.

“Florida's rapid population growth, with over 1,100 new residents each day, challenges us to balance development with the preservation of our natural landscapes and agricultural areas,” Mr. Saunders said. “Conservation easements, which shield land from development while safeguarding essential habitats, wetlands, and wildlife, are a critical tool at our disposal. I am proud my experience in this field is allowing landowners to maintain Florida's natural heritage for future generations.”

Mr. Saunders has been a leading force behind Florida’s conservation efforts. As a former state legislator in the 1990s, he wrote the legislation to establish the Green Swamp Land Authority, the first state entity to purchase development rights (PDR) from landowners. The legislation was truly a pioneering concept with no formal program in place within the State at the time. It was established to determine if the concept of PDRs would be accepted by landowners and adopted by government agencies. The pilot program was limited to the geography of The Green Swamp, a 322,690-acre area identified by the State of Florida as an Area of Critical State Concern.

The concept has rebranded to the purchase of conservation easements and, through the years, has become widely accepted and adopted by landowners. It has proven to be an effective tool to preserve land by local, state, and federal agencies.

For nearly 30 years, Mr. Saunders has represented landowners to secure conservation easements. Conservation easements allow the landowner to sell the developmental rights of their property to the State or a qualified agency and keep the property in natural or working agricultural conditions while maintaining ownership of the land. The conservation easement guides the property’s use and protects it in perpetuity. Conservation easements are cost-effective for taxpayers because it costs less money to buy rights than the property, and the state doesn’t have to pay to manage the land.

See below a complete list of the properties that Mr. Saunders closed within the last three months:

About SVN | Saunders Ralston Dantzler

SVN | Saunders Ralston Dantzler Real Estate is a full-service land and commercial real estate brokerage representing buyers, sellers, investors, institutions, and landowners since 1996. We are recognized nationally as an authority on all types of land including, agriculture, ranch, recreation, residential development, and international properties. Our commercial real estate services include marketing, property management, leasing and tenant representation, loan sales, valuation, advisory, and counseling services for office, retail, industrial, and multi-family properties. With over 100 expert advisors located in Florida and Georgia, we provide our clients with professional knowledge and resources to ensure the buyer’s and seller’s needs are met.