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A Balance of Commerce & Conservation: Kiplinger Land Donation Benefits A Community and An Ecosystem

Kiplinger Nature Preserve

Last week, early one morning, we packed up the gear and headed out to the 157-acre Kiplinger Nature Preserve in Martin County.

It sits quietly along and within the St. Lucie River on the southeast corner of the Veterans Memorial Bridge - smack in the middle of the bustling area of Kanner Highway and Indian Street in Stuart!

SH: This is real Florida!

This is Stacey Hetherington.

SH: I’m the Martin County Commissioner that represents District 2.

The County has operated the Preserve for 30 years now. People come for…

Credit Kiplinger Nature Preserve
Aerial view of a portion of the Kiplinger Nature Preserve

SH: …hiking and a preserve where we have a dock at the end. It’s used for paddling and kayaking.

The Kiplinger family had the land for decades, and they made the Preserve possible. They held onto the last 7 commercially zoned acres located right on the corner next to the bridge, until now! They’ve decided to donate it.

SH: So, this donation will absolutely help us extend some of the hiking and paddling efforts, but it will also help us manage some of the exotic vegetation better. We try to put it back to its natural state.

This forever preserves the pristine view from the Bridge. It’s up there that you really see the green vastness of the Preserve.

Credit Tania Ortega-Cowan
Stacey Hetherington, Martin County Commissioner, District 2

Meanwhile, back on the ground, we’re now standing on a little wooden bridge over wetlands filled with white waterlilies.

SH: People don’t often get to see what a real, functioning wetland looks like and right in the middle of an urban area too. This could easily be used to, you know, generate tax revenue and they could have developed it into commercial and office but it serves such a good community benefit and I think he saw the value in that.

She is referring to Knight Kiplinger, who made the donation on behalf of his family.

KK: We think the value to the people of Martin County is much greater in its intangible values than the tax revenue would have generated.

We’re talking to him by phone.

KK: Yes, I’m in Maryland. At a farm in Maryland about 20 miles from DC. I’m Knight Kiplinger of Washington DC, and Sewall’s Point, Florida.

Credit Kiplinger Nature Preserve
Knight Kiplinger at the Preserve on a recent visit to Martin County

He’s the editor emeritus of Kiplinger Publications and is chairman of Outlook, Inc, his family's real estate holding company.

KK: I’ve been vacationing in Sewall’s Point since I was about 4 years old. And we believe that people from up north, who spend a lot of time in Florida have an obligation to give as much to that community of their second home as they do to their principal residence up north. So we try to be good citizens.

The Preserve has, of course, wetlands, with mangroves, and also a dry upland, with mature slash pines and saw palmetto. A small, unnamed creek flows into the river.  We think of all the many animals who find refuge there! Kiplinger mentions the state tortoise, the Gopher. It digs burrows which shelter hundreds of animal species!

KK: Like a lot of Florida animals, they’ve lost habitat.

Credit Kiplinger Nature Preserve
Part of the Kiplinger Nature Preserve

Today they’re protected, and some of them live here on the Preserve.

KK: I don’t know how many gopher tortoises there are at the Kiplinger Nature Preserve, but my wife and I have encountered one big bruiser on our walks. They’re around. They live in big burrows. They love the berms and the dykes along the canals of our region. And, they’re worth preserving.

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Credit Tania Ortega-Cowan
A display at the Kiplinger Nature Preserve explaining how they are restoring native plants and eliminating invasive exotics.