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Pat Neal of Neal Communities Donates $350,000 to Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast

Thursday, June 6, 2024  |  News

When Pat Neal, founder and chairman of Neal Communities, was presented with the 2024 Hearthstone BUILDER Humanitarian Award, he knew that he wanted the honorarium that came with it to go to an important partner in land preservation in the state of Florida. Mr. Neal and Neal Communities raised an additional $200,000 to add to the $150,000 honorarium to donate a total of $350,000.

Those funds went directly to Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast, which focuses its efforts on the purchase of fresh and saltwater wetlands, imperiled habitats for wildlife, scrub habitats, connectivity for wildlife corridors, and for the purchase of properties for public access.

“The work being done by organizations like Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast related to land preservation is vital for our future generations to ensure that the public can enjoy everything that this beautiful state has to offer for years to come,” says Mr. Neal.

The Hearthstone BUILDER Humanitarian Award was presented to Mr. Neal earlier this month as a result of his efforts for conservation in Sarasota and Manatee Counties over the 54 years that Neal Communities has operated.

The funds will be used by Conservation Foundation for land acquisition in Sarasota and Manatee counties and to fund the Strategic Conservation Plan being created for the first time for Conservation Foundation. The Foundation is celebrating its 20th year, having sponsored or managed the acquisition of nearly 20,000 acres of land in Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte, Lee, and Collier counties across 58 properties.

“Land conservation is urgent work and requires the support of our entire community,” comments Christine P. Johnson, president of Conservation Foundation. “We are deeply grateful to Pat Neal for choosing to protect the land and water here in Southwest Florida by selecting Conservation Foundation to receive these funds. This generous gift will quicken the pace of conservation and help further our work to connect protected lands and create a Southwest Florida Wildlife Corridor for the benefit of people and nature.”

The Hearthstone award also recognized the Keystone contribution to the Big Pine Key National Wildlife Refuge in Big Pine Key, Florida near Key West. This is the home of the remaining 700-800 Key Deer surviving on the planet – an increase from the approximately 50 key deer when the contribution was made – which itself is a result of Mr. Neal’s gift to the Trust for Public Lands and the sale to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service in 1986.

“There is a lot of support for land conservation in our state from the public and environmental agencies,” Mr. Neal adds. “But the process of acquiring and preserving land for the future is not an easy one because of the competing and legitimate goals of private property owners. Of course, public concern, environmental consciousness, and feeling good about what we do as humans on this delicate planet are considerations as well and the work being done by the Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast will help maintain this balance.”