DEP Shifting Focus to Selling Non-Conservation Land

DATE: March 28, 2014

TO: Interested Parties

FROM: DEP Press Office

RE: State Conservation Land Assessment

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection will cease its comprehensive land sale effort and will shift its focus to potential sales of non-conservation land, such as the A.G. Holley State Hospital in Lantana, as a means to fund Florida Forever purchases in the future.

The Department’s Division of State Lands spent six months reviewing more than 3 million acres of conservation land in order to determine what could be deemed no longer needed for conservation purposes. It was the first time in the state’s history this type of comprehensive assessment has ever been conducted.

“I’m thankful for the efforts of our staff, who conducted many public meetings and sought public comment to make this a transparent process,” said DEP Secretary Herschel T. Vinyard Jr.“We will continue to assess our land, determine what should be sold and we are excited about the possibility of selling non-conservation land to fund conservation land purchases to protect our springs, water resources and buffer military bases.”

As a result of this study, Division staff has significantly increased its understanding of the land owned by the state. The Division also learned more about the land management issues our state faces; an important factor given that government owns about one third of all land in Florida. After months of evaluating and paring the 3 million acres of state-owned conservation land to roughly 5,200 acres, that list was reduced due to legal and title issues, knowledge about endangered species habitat and other factors.

The Department will continue to buy and sell conservation land in the way it has done for decades with the involvement of the local community – the state has sold roughly 3,000 acres since 2000, generating $14.5 million in revenue. In addition, the Department will seek land to buy, like the closing in October on the second-largest conservation easement in Florida’s history — roughly 21,000 acres that buffers Eglin Air Force Base and provides wildlife habitat and aquifer recharge qualities.

Finally, this assessment process and the lessons learned during that process has energized the Department to undertake an inventory of the state’s non-conservation lands.

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