As part of its work to protect water resources, the St. Johns River Water Management District purchased land over the past 35 years that provides a variety of public and environmental benefits.
In December 2011, the district began a comprehensive evaluation of district-owned lands to examine whether the agency’s goals continue to be achieved. As part of the assessment process, staff evaluated every acre of property to examine the need for conservation purposes. The evaluation focused on determining if any properties, or portions of these tracts, should be identified as surplus lands, or if portions of any properties should be considered for alternative uses.
In December 2012, the district’s Governing Board approved a Lands Assessment Implementation Plan that called for:
- Retaining 569,779 acres, which represent 92 percent of district-owned lands
- Donating 25,091 acres to local governments and retaining conservation easements on those lands
- Selling 6,574 acres and retaining easements to protect the lands’ conservation values
- Surplusing to sell/exchange 3,591 acres that have lower conservation value, have land management issues, or are no longer needed for the original purpose of the acquisition
- Converting 13,388 acres to alternative uses, such as leases allowing for forestry activities or peat removal
Revenue gained from any conservation property identified as surplus and subsequently sold can only be used for conservation land acquisition or restoration. Funding cannot be redirected to any other aspect of the district’s budget. Additionally, the sale prices must be equal to or greater than a property’s current appraised value, regardless of the price paid when the district acquired it.