South Florida among water districts weighing sale of conservation land

South Florida is among three water districts that plan to sell thousands of acres of recently acquired conservation land to help balance budgets, the Herald-Tribune reported. Southwest Florida and Suwannee River are also exploring land sales.

“If we don’t need it to help us conserve water resources or wetlands, then we don’t need to be holding it,” said Paul Senft, chairman of the board that governs the Southwest Florida Water Management District.
The move is being supported by Governor Rick Scott, who has vetoed more than $300 million in funds for conservation land, and has spoken out against public land.

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But opponents argue that public land meant for long-term conservation shouldn’t be sold off to solve short-term budget issues. And in addition to preservationist sentiment, they note it’s bad business sense. Much of the land was bought at the peak of the real estate bubble, and is now being sold at the market’s bottom.

The idea to sell was first discussed in March, and will be up for debate in district meetings through the end of the year. [Herald-Tribune]

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