How valuable are state-managed conservation lands? It's a question the South Florida Water Management District has put to the public in a multi-month assessment of fee-owned lands throughout the state.
Several ecologically-significant tracts of public land in Palm Beach County will go under the microscope this month as a state agency continues its multi-region assessment of state-owned lands throughout South Florida.
When the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) was approved in 2000, it was a historic move to "restore, protect and preserve" water resources in central and south Florida. The 30-year framework was designed with the ultimate goal of restoring historic water-flows to a "dying ecosystem." Project leaders and scientists are now focused on incorporating climate change adaptation into the plans and acknowledging that the Everglades will likely never look the way it once did.
A state agency is considering designating large tracts of state-owned lands as "surplus," including sections that are home to a near-extinct bird endemic to Florida. Surplus lands can be made available for public sale or trade, or used in ways that differ from their original intention as conservation lands.
Citizen scientists and environmental stewards take note: Two state agencies are in the process of soliciting public comment on issues that could impact Florida's overall ecological outlook.
First up is the South Florida Water Management District, which is accepting public comments on four parcels of land in the Upper Lakes Management Region located north of Orlando. These include Tibet-Butler Preserve, Shingle Creek, Lake Marion Creek and Reedy Creek, and SUMICA.