Budget conference: Chambers agree to $10M for Flagler County land acquisition, conservation

Tortoise -- Flagler Land Acquistition Committee
Flagler’s Land Acquisition Committee has identified 8 priority areas to buy, restore and enhance.

Flagler County’s conservation and land acquisition efforts are getting a $10 million bump from the state.

Senate and House lawmakers have agreed on a one-time earmark to help create a floodplain on the county’s west side and preserve, protect and enhance wildlife habitats.

That’s good news for Flagler environmentalists, especially since the clock is ticking on the Legislature’s budget conference.

The chambers must reach an agreement on the budget by Tuesday to meet a required 72-hour “cooling off” period before they can vote on the spending plan.

Missing that deadline would push the Regular Session past its scheduled March 8 end date.

The $10 million apportionment fully satisfies matching appropriations requests Palm Coast Sen. Travis Hutson and Belleview Rep. Ryan Chamberlin, both Republicans, sought in November through matching funding requests.

The money will go to the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission for the purchase of environmentally sensitive land in and around the Florida Wildlife Corridor, which includes Flagler’s 30-acre Bull Creek Campground.

“The majority focus of our program will go towards identifying willing sellers and negotiating for the acquisition of properties,” Flagler County Administrator Heidi Petitio wrote.

The appropriations requests said creating a natural floodplain would reduce flood risks by slowing runoff and storing flood water. It added that other economic, social and environmental benefits include fish and wildlife habitat protection, surface water quality maintenance, erosion control, groundwater recharge, biological productivity and better recreational opportunities for residents and visitors.

Flagler’s Land Acquisition Committee, a seven-member citizen advisory group, has developed an “A List” of eight large areas in the county to buy, restore and enhance. There’s also a “B List” of 20 other low-priority projects.

“Identified conservation lands will provide certain environmental benefits for outdoor recreation, floodplain management, and environmental resilience,” the requests said.

“They also provide opportunities to continue silvicultural practices and provide opportunities for outdoor learning laboratories to study timber practices, water quality, wildlife, etc. Finally, it will provide a level of protection of source waters in order to maintain a safe and abundant drinking water supply. The measures will include increased use of recreational areas on conservation land and continued availability of clean, high quality drinking water extracted from in-county sources.”

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.


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