110 W. New York Ave.
DeLand, FL 32720
18,045 acres to be donated to local government
By Pat Andrews
posted Dec 19, 2012 - 6:41:03am
After a yearlong evaluation of 600,000 acres of public lands under its control, the St. Johns River Water Management District’s Governing Board voted Dec. 11 to keep and protect 569,779 of those acres, or 92 percent.
The decision will affect 21,769 acres owned by the water-management district in Volusia County. Of that, 18,045 acres will be donated to local governments, and will remain in public ownership.
The St. Johns River Water Management District covers part or all of 18 counties in northeast and east-central Florida, including all of Volusia County. The agency’s land is spread throughout the territory.
Volusia County lands
The possibility of public lands being sold to private owners didn’t sit too well with many Volusians, including members of the Volusia County Council.
In June, suspicious about why Gov. Rick Scott had prodded all five state water-management districts to evaluate their holdings, County Council members said all the district lands in Volusia County needed to remain under protection.
County Chair Frank Bruno asked the water-management district for a meeting to discuss the evaluation. At that public meeting in July, Volusia County residents spoke up, objecting to releasing lands from conservation. Several speakers asked whether the governor was planning to sell the surplus land to his cronies.
“Go back to your board; give them a little shake and a nudge,” Aiden Magee told the water-management district representatives. “We demand our commissioners to stand our ground for us and say, ‘absolutely no!’”
Magee is a member of the Environmental Council of Volusia and Flagler Counties.
So, what was the board’s decision on lands in Volusia County?
Out of 78,365 acres, 56,596 acres will be left alone. Land totaling 21,769 acres (or 27.8 percent of the holdings) will be released from water- management district ownership.
However, the vast majority of that land — 99.4 percent — will have protective conservation easements tied to it. Here’s the breakdown:
• The St. Johns River Water Management District will donate 18,045 acres to local governments, while retaining conservation easements on those lands at Deep Creek Preserve (3,195 acres), Gemini Springs County Park and Addition (1,151 acres), Lake George Forest (7,864 acres), Longleaf Pine Preserve (4,272 acres), Port Orange stormwater facility (23 acres), Spruce Creek Preserve (139 acres), and Wiregrass Prairie Preserve (1,401 acres).
• At two sites, the district will sell 3,593 acres of land while retaining conservation easements: 1,954 acres at Crescent Lake Conservation Area, and 1,639 acres at Heart Island Conservation Area.
• Deemed of no conservation value and to be put up for sale without strings attached are 131 acres of the total 3,583 acres at Crescent Lake Conservation Area.
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