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Key Southwest Florida Lawmaker Might Stand In The Way of Controversial Conservation Bill


A proposed bill would have the state trade land it already owns for new land it wants to acquire. However, a key lawmaker from Southwest Florida could halt it.

Most years, the state government buys land in an effort to conserve and protect any troubled wildlife or habitats in Florida. Right now, a lot of the land the state is looking to acquire is actually in Southwest Florida.

This proposed bill, though, could make it harder for the state to acquire some properties including coastal habitat along Estero Bay and Charlotte Harbor,which are currently on the state’s list.

State Sen. Alan Hays, R-Umatilla, introduced the bill.

However, state Rep. Matt Caldwell, R-Lehigh Acres, who chairs the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, said he is not too keen on this idea.

“I’ve got some real hesitance about that bill,” he said. “You know, obligating people to make that trade, we already have an existing system that allows people to do it.”

Caldwell said he does support taking a close look at whether some of the land the state already owns is a good investment.

The House version of the bill would need to pass in Caldwell’s committee to move forward. That is, if Caldwell puts it on the agenda at all.

Property rights groups have expressed support of the bill. Environmental groups are opposed.

Ashley Lopez is a reporter forWGCUNews. A native of Miami, she graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a journalism degree.