The sun rises behind a cypress dome at Blue Cypress Lake.
One of the many ways the St. Johns River Water Management District meets its mission to preserve and protect Florida’s water resources is by acquiring and managing lands.
To maximize the use of land acquisition and management moneys, the 1996 Florida Legislature amended state statutes to encourage the use of alternatives to “fee simple acquisition.” Fee simple acquisition means the district purchases the complete package of land, including all the rights to it.
The alternative, known as the “less-than-fee” alternative, minimizes the district’s expenditures while allowing private landowners to continue managing the land with activities compatible with conservation.
The public benefits greatly when the district uses this alternative. Natural resources are protected at a reduced cost to taxpayers. Private property remains on tax rolls for county or city income. Private owners continue to use their land (with restrictions) and are responsible for managing the land, helping the district to avoid management costs. The district also may negotiate public access to the land for recreational purposes.
All restrictions, terms and conditions of less-than-fee acquisitions are negotiated with the owners of the land.