SJRWMD governing board votes to retain most District lands
Following a yearlong evaluation of its 600,000 acres of public lands, the St. Johns River Water Management District’s Governing Board voted on Dec. 11, 2012, to retain and continue to protect nearly all of those lands. The Lands Assessment Implementation Plan calls for:
Retaining 569,779 acres, which represent 92 percent of District-owned lands.
Donating 25,091 acres to local governments and retaining conservation easements on those lands.
Selling 6,574 acres and retaining easements to protect the lands’ conservation values.
Surplusing to sell or exchange 3,591 acres of land (less than 1 percent) that have lower conservation value, have land management issues, or are no longer needed for the original purpose of the acquisition.
Converting 13,388 acres to alternative uses, such as leases allowing for forestry activities or peat removal.
"Staff worked diligently to ensure scientific integrity in the technical assessment and to make certain the process was transparent and inclusive," said Board Chairman Lad Daniels of Jacksonville. "We anticipate seeing a positive environmental benefit as lower quality acres are ultimately replaced by higher conservation-value lands."
Under Florida law, District surplus land sales must be reinvested in new property. Revenue gained from any conservation property identified as surplus and subsequently sold can only be used for land acquisition. Funding cannot be redirected to any other aspect of the District's budget.
The review included consideration of comments received through a series of public meetings during the summer and fall, comments submitted online, and discussions between District staff and local governments. The District held more than 40 meetings throughout its 18-county jurisdiction during the yearlong process, including District Operations and Land Resources Director Robert Christianson leading 10 public meetings and discussions with dozens of local government staff and other stakeholders.
The Board's action today does not sell any land. Rather, land identified as surplus and offered for sale or exchange must subsequently be approved by the Governing Board in future public meetings.
Source: SJRWMD news release