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

Group Signs Off On New Babcock Ranch Preserve Management Plan

Topher Forhecz/WGCU

An advisory committee approved a draft for the Babcock Ranch Preserve’s 10-year land management plan on Wednesday. But, both members of the committee and the public said the process happened very quickly.

The Babcock Ranch Preserve Management Plan Advisory Group is tasked with revising the practices of a 73,000-acre piece of land that features both a working ranch and natural preserve.

Several members talked about trying to strike a balance between generating income from the ranch and public access.

Jennifer Hecker with the Conservancy of Southwest Florida said there were also a lot of missed opportunities in the new plan.

“We saw them remove essentially or allow the removal of eight pages of management objectives relating to protecting the wildlife on the property. That, we were very disappointed with,” she said. “There was very little to address the water quality problems that are stemming from that property that could be addressed with better management practices.”

A representative with the Florida Forest Service said those objectives will be covered in the operations plan.

This was the second of two public meetings on the topic.

Hecker said the public had fewer than three days to review changes the group made to the more than 80-page document after the first meeting.

The new management plan will head to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection next. There will be another public meeting in April, when the document will be reviewed by a state committee for approval.  

Topher is a reporter at WGCU News.