Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) and the rest of the Florida Cabinet are considering purchasing up to $40 million worth of land deals for conservation purposes. The cabinet consists of Florida’s statewide executive officials: Attorney General Ashley Moody (R), Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried (D), and Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis (R).
The cabinet’s potential acquisition total could be up to 17,000 acres stretching from the Florida Keys to the Panhandle. The possible Panhandle acquisition would be 3,610 in the Wolfe Creek Forest and 932 acres in Hardee County.
Also, a part of the acquisition deal would include using $16.75 million from the Florida Forever land-conservation program and $3.66 million from the state’s Rural and Family Lands Protection Program in order to keep five tracts of land, totaling nearly 13,000 acres, from development.
A Wakulla Springs land acquisition, south of Tallahassee, of over 300 acres is also on the docket. Around $1.6 million of a total $2.2 million purchase for the Wakulla tract of land would be covered by the federal Forest Legacy Program.
There are four other acquisitions being considered including around $1.5 million for 354 acres in Highlands County, over $4.5 million for 4,231 acres in the Red Hills region of Leon and Jefferson counties, $1.2 million for 160 acres in Columbia County, and nearly $6 million for 241 acres in Duval County.
DeSantis and the cabinet have been going through numerous conservation purchases since DeSantis took office. In September, the cabinet was considering multiple land deals in Miami-Dade County and in Northeast Florida. However, the Miami-Dade land deal would have been the state selling land to a private developer for $12 million.
In 2019, the cabinet also considered land deals worth $11 million for the Florida Forever fund, acquiring over 900 acres from Charlotte County, St. Johns County, and Wakulla County.
Many of the purchases are part of the Florida Forever Program, which are considered “conservation easements,” that was launched in July 2021 designed to be “Florida’s premier conservation and recreation lands acquisition program” within the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.
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