TALLAHASSEE –Today, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection closed on a parcel in Clay County that will provide military buffering for Camp Blanding and conservation value as part of a Florida Forever project approved in March by the Governor and Florida Cabinet.
Governor Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet in March approved the purchase as part of a collaborative effort between the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and U.S. Department of Defense. The total cost of the acreage is $2.1 million, with the state paying $600,000 and the U.S. Department of Defense paying $1.5 million. Federal funding is available through a cooperative agreement between DEP and the Army National Guard Bureau.
Governor Scott said, “This is another example of how the State of Florida and our partners in the U.S. Military work together to benefit the environment and help our military train in order to protect our state. Our Florida Families First budget includes $70 million for conservation land, which helps to protect our natural resources and provide important military buffer areas like this.”
Public acquisition of this project will contribute to the Florida Forever goals by increasing the protection of Florida’s biodiversity of species, the natural community and landscape as well as protecting, restoring and maintaining the quality and natural functions of land, water, and wetland systems of the state. There are four major blackwater streams from three major river basins originating within the Camp Blanding – Raiford Greenway project area, as well as several headwaters and tributaries. The purchase will also increase the amount of forestland necessary for continued natural resource management.
“I want to thank Governor Scott and the Florida Cabinet for their leadership and support regarding conservation land purchases,” said DEP Secretary Herschel T. Vinyard Jr. “By making smart land purchases, state taxpayer dollars are being used wisely to protect Florida’s natural resources.”
This land will provide a natural buffer to Camp Blanding’s training center and allow soldiers and equipment the necessary training area, thereby limiting disruption to neighboring residents. It will limit development in the vicinity of Camp Blanding Joint Training Center, provide proper space for military ranges and ensure that Florida remains the most military friendly state in the country. The Florida Department of Military Affairs, Florida Armory Board will manage the property as a natural forested area.
In March, the Governor and Cabinet approved the purchase of 1,578 acres. On Thursday, the parties closed on 1,422 of those acres and agreed to continue their due diligence on the final 156 acres to complete the rest of the closing by October.