MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) – The state of Florida has purchased nearly 11,000 acres from a citrus company for land preservation.

Fort Myers-based Alico Inc. announced Friday that the state’s Florida Forever land conservation program purchased 10,702 acres (4,331 hectares) of its land in Hendry County for $28.5 million. The publicly-traded company is one of America’s largest citrus producers.

This is the second time the state has purchased land from Alico in an area known as the Devil’s Garden, the News-Press reported.

In 2019, the state purchased 5,534 acres (2,240 hectares) for more than $14.7 million. The two purchases represent more than 16,000 acres (6,500 hectares) of conservation land that is prime habitat for endangered Florida panthers.

The second purchase from Alico is part of the $79 million Gov. Ron DeSantis and the state Cabinet agreed to spend on seven Florida Forever projects this fiscal year.

According to the Florida Forever website, the state has purchased more than 818,000 acres (331,000 hectares) of land with more than $3 billion through the program since its inception in July 2001.

(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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