Forty acres of state land are proposed for sale in Franklin County.
As part of a fundraising project to increase the holdings of conservation land, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection proposed the sale of more than 5,000 acres of land on August 20.
Under the Florida Water and Land Conservation Amendment, conservation lands are defined as “wetlands and forests; fish and wildlife habitat; lands protecting water resources and drinking water sources, including the Everglades, and the water quality of rivers, lakes, and streams; beaches and shores; outdoor recreational lands; working farms and ranches; and historic or geologic sites.”
The largest parcel of land proposed for sale in the county is a 26-acre tract at the end of Bluff Road that is currently a part of the Box-R Wildlife Management Area.
Four other parcels, ranging in size from 6.4 acres to .04 acres, ar part of Tate’s Hell State Forest. All are coastal tracts between Yent Bayou and the Tillie Miller Bridge. An aerial photograph shows the tracts are near property that has already been developed.
The technical descriptions of the parcels are as follows:
In Box-R Wildlife Management Area, FWC-BX 1 26.0 Franklin County Section 021, Township 08-S, Range 08-W.
In Tate's Hell State Forest, FLMA_108 6.4 Franklin County Section 008, Township 08-S, Range 05-W; FLMA_110 0.4 Franklin County Section 007, Township 08-S, Range 05-W; FLMA_112 6.2 Franklin County Section 003, Township 08-S, Range 05-W and FLMA_113 1.0 Franklin County Section 003, Township 08-S, Range 05-W.
Assistant County Planner Mark Curenton said that lots smaller than one acre must have been platted before 1978 to be buildable.
After public outcry across the state, more than 400 acres were removed last week from the original list of surplus lands, but the 40 acres in Franklin County remain on the block.
A press release on the land sale said the state was seeking to generate $50 million with the sale to add to a $20 million appropriation by the legislature to acquire more critical land parcels. The 2013 legislature required DEP to “create a process to determine which land is no longer needed for conservation purposes.”
Working with the Trust for Public Land, real estate brokers Cushman & Wakefield, state agencies and other non-profit groups, DEP developed “a scientifically and environmentally based (model) to assess the entire inventory of conservation lands.”
The DEP release said more than 65 criteria were identified and weighted to assess the properties. Examples included spring protection value, proximity to existing development, sinkhole features, recreation value, floodplain protection and protection of imperiled species.
Critics of the program say the list was compiled too rapidly and without thorough consideration of land value and ecological importance.
DEP said it would hold workshops in to get public input about properties proposed for sale. All parcel sales will ultimately require the DEP Acquisition and Restoration Council to make a recommendation and the Board of Trustees to determine that the land is no longer needed for conservation purposes.
To see the full list of sites proposed for sale as surplus, plus maps, and the state's land assessment process, visit http://tinyurl.com/pytbh7u. To provide comments on the state surplus lands list via email, send to ARC_mailinglist@dep.state.fl.