FORT MYERS — Alico, one of the largest citrus producers in the country, has signed an option agreement to sell 10,684 acres to Florida for about $28.5 million. The deal, for land on the west side of the Alico Ranch, is part of the Florida Forever program, according to a statement. If the state exercises its option, the land purchase could close by the end the firm’s 2020 fiscal year, the release adds. Alico sold about 5,500 acres to Florida for permanent protection under the Florida Forever program in 2019. These transactions are intended to preserve sensitive lands for Florida’s future, enhance protections for the Florida Panther and protect the health of the Caloosahatchee River and the Western Everglades Basin, according to the release. “Because the acres involved in this potential purchase by the state are critical to the planned Alico dispersed water storage project known as Alico Northern Everglades Payment for Environmental Services, we have decided to suspend the permit approval activities for that project at this time,” Alico President and CEO John Kiernan says in the release. “Alico remains dedicated to preserving Florida’s crucial water resources and intends to explore other ways to continue to partner with the State of Florida on our dispersed water storage project once this pending transaction closes. As it has for generations, Alico will continue to support conservation and land management programs on the remaining acres of the Alico Ranch, which are currently leased for recreational hunting and cattle grazing activities.” Alico operates Alico Citrus and Alico Water Resources and Other Operations, a leading water storage and environmental services division. It posted $122.35 million in revenue in 2019 and is publicly-traded (Nasdaq: ALCO).
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