See our story as told by the lovely and talented Bianca Castro of WFTV news:
here is the video version:
Here are some other recent stories
In the frantic final days of the 2013 legislative session, legislators approved proviso language in the budget which allocated $70 million to purchase new conservation lands buffering military bases and providing spring protection. The idea sounded good but it came with a catch. Out of the $70 million, $50 million had to come from the sale of existing "surplus" conservation lands. Legislators were told that Florida had expendable scrub parcels in the middle of nowhere that were not needed, therefore the impact of the sale would be negligible.
To meet its obligation under the proviso and in efforts to identify $50 million in surplus conservation lands, the Department of Environmental Protection set up a rating system to identify which parcels were "surplus." They came up with an initial list of parcels but were told that more were needed to get up to the $50 million mark. So they went back and surplused more and more lands until they had a list of many parcels. Over the course of several public hearings of people outraged at significant factors not used in the process, the DEP narrowed the list down to 77 parcels from state parks and wildlife refuges:
A link to the list of parcels to be sold is here:
We feel this process for identifying "surplus" conservation lands is flawed. The DEP is under a time constraint to sell these parcels before the next legislative session begins in March of 2014. The DEP has ignored several constitutional and administrative laws in the course of its process. Several if not most of these parcels were purchased under the Florida Forever program in which the sellers discounted the price received for their parcel because the State of Florida agreed to have the property "PRESERVED IN PERPETUITY." Now. only a few years later, these parcels may be sold to developers and used to bring in houses and strip malls where deer and black bears currently roam.
Florida needs conservation lands to recharge the Floridan aquifer. It needs lands set aside so that new development does not add to nutrient pollutions in its springs, lakes, rivers and estuaries.