Growing up in Florida we spent a lot of time camping, hunting, fishing, water skiing and going to the beach. I believe in preserving Florida’s beautiful natural woodlands and pristine beaches, along with our lakes, springs and rivers. We also must make sure we have adequate clean water for our citizens. Far too often, as it relates to the environment, we legislate by crises, responding to whatever catastrophe currently threatens a particular eco system. That’s inefficient and it wastes money and other resources.
Currently, federal, state and local government own 9.9 million acres of conservation land in Florida. The total land area of Florida is 34,721,280 acres, meaning that almost one third of Florida is owned by some level of government for conservation purposes. Adding in the property that is privately owned but restricted from development due to zoning or density restrictions and the amount of land unavailable for development goes up significantly. In fact, we own so much conservation land that we currently have difficulty maintaining and protecting this land.
Government owns land under several agencies which are not managed as they should be. Often left as wilderness, they become a fire hazard, vulnerable to invasive species, and overpopulation of wild animals. Some of these properties have been degraded while under government ownership. Waters and springs have become polluted.
Recognizing that there may be exceptions, before any additional properties are purchased for conservation purposes, we need to do a better job managing the properties we already own, and existing waterways, estuaries, rivers and other water bodies presently endangered should be restored.