GETTING AWAY FROM IT ALL — A lone cyclist rides along the Spring-to-Spring Trail, a portion of which runs alongside Grand Avenue in Glenwood. Trail segments like this one are one of many recreational and cultural amenities funded wholly or in part from the ECHO — that is, environmental, cultural, historical and outdoor recreation — and Volusia Forever programs. PHOTO COURTESY VOLUSIA COUNTY

The Volusia County Council will vote on deeming a number of potential conservation areas a high priority at the council’s next meeting April 5.

The taxpayer-funded Volusia Forever program allows for Volusia County and funding partners — like other municipalities — to purchase privately owned land to preserve natural biodiversity. The Volusia Forever Committee identifies potential conservation areas and recommends their additions to two groups — A and B. 

Group A projects are the top priority of county staff, Resource Stewardship Director Brad Burbaugh explained.

“Once that list is approved, [Land Acquisition Manager Tim Telfer] and I will start meeting with landowners to discuss the potential acquisition,” Burbaugh said. “The B list is not the active acquisition list. Something needs to change with those B list properties to get them on the A list.”

At its March 10 meeting, the Volusia Forever Committee recommended 15 projects be added to Group A. The last time the groups were updated was 2009. Since then, many of the projects in Group A have been purchased by the county or other partners, including Green Springs Park in Osteen.

The 15 projects recommended for the Group A list include a 170-acre parcel along the St. Johns River in DeBary that the city envisions as a passive park with a boardwalk and water research facility, and a 120-acre parcel in north DeLand near Lake Winnemissett that includes much of Lake Moore. DeLand City Manager Michael Pleus said the city envisions a passive park like Lyonia Preserve in Deltona.

“We were looking at the possibility of doing a passive park with trails throughout and some viewing points for wildlife, trees, etc.,” Pleus said. “A place where you can take a biology class, a class on environmental science, or a Scout trip.”

Burbaugh is excited to pursue the new projects. The Forever program accepts applications twice annually, and this fall’s application period saw the most applications the program has ever received. 

The Volusia County Council will discuss the Volusia Forever lists and more at its next meeting beginning at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, April 5. The Volusia County Council meets in the Frank T. Bruno Jr. County Council Chambers, Room 204, in the Thomas C. Kelly Administration Center, 123 W. Indiana Ave. in DeLand. 

All meetings are open to the public and are also streamed online at the County Council website, HERE. 

Click HERE for more information about and to view the full list of Volusia Forever projects, and HERE to view the rest of the County Council agenda.


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