PBS and NPR for Southwest Florida
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Environmental Groups Say State Conservation Land Sales Aren't Going Well

Florida Fish and Wildlife
Flickr/Creative Commons

Environmental groups say the state’s plan to sell some of Florida’s conservation land to buy more sensitive land is not going so well.

State legislators set a land conservation budget for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) at about $70 million this year-- but, the DEP was only given about $20 million outright.

The rest, legislators said, had to come from selling off land the state already owns, some of which they say doesn’t necessarily need to be conserved anymore.

Since state officials released a list of land they are considering selling, there’s been a lot of resistance from local politicians and advocates who have said much of that land shouldn’t even be considered for sale.

Charles Lee with Audubon Florida said the state’s plan was flawed from the start.

“What has happened as the Department of Environmental Protection has gone through the process is that they have validated that a very high percentage of the land the state owns for conservation can’t be sold because it’s far too valuable to the environment,” Lee said.

However, DEP spokesman Patrick Gillespie said his agency’s plans are on track as the state works to review the considered land and take public comment.

“To call it a failure is not accurate,” he said. “Certainly there was the potential for up to 50 million dollars—but again, it was up to 50 million dollars.”

Gillespie said the budget was left open-ended so the agency could focus on selling land that really doesn’t need to be conserved anymore, instead of working to sell off a certain amount of land. 

In 2014, Floridians will consider a ballot measure that, if passed, would amend the state Constitution to require lawmakers to set aside a percentage of money made from real estate transactions for land conservation. For years now, advocates have said the state has been spending far too little on land conservation. 

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.
Related Content
  1. Florida Supreme Court Gives OK To Conservation Amendment