Action Alert - February 11th Deadline for Comments on SFWMD "Surplus" Lands

The South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) has embarked on a process to potentially declare some conservation lands as surplus, and subsequently sell or trade them, or dedicate lands to uses other than the conservation purposes for which they were purchased.
Unlike the Land Assessments recently conducted by the St. Johns River Water Management District and Southwest Florida Water Management District, the staff at SFWMD is not releasing a information that  reveals which parcels may be proposed to be declared surplus. Instead, SFWMD is starting by asking for public comments on ALL of its conservation land holdings.  This presents a certain danger, in that it is possible the district could interpret “no response” from the public in regard to a particular parcel as “disinterest”, or an indication that the public, environmental and conservation organizations, do not care enough about that parcel to comment.  Such parcels where “people don’t seem to care” could be at a greater risk for surplus disposal.
SFWMD is dividing the district up into several “Land Assessment Regions”, and is starting the evaluation in the northern reaches of the district, in the “Northern Lakes” district which consists of the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes area in Orange, Osceola, and Polk Counties. We at Audubon Florida believe all of the listed properties should be retained in public ownership as conservation land; they constitute the true “Headwaters of the Everglades”.  Properties being studied for possible surplus declaration include the Lake Tibet-Butler Preserve, the Shingle Creek floodplain properties in Orange County and Osceola County, the Lake Marion Creek and Reedy Creek floodplain tracts in Osceola and Polk Counties, and the SUMICA conservation area in Polk County.
Comments on these properties are being solicited until the end of business on February 11th, 2013. It is essential that the SFWMD receive substantial comments from numerous organizations and individuals evaluating these properties and recommending their retention as Conservation Lands. Comments should expressly recommend that properties not be declared surplus, and should state in particular why retention of these properties serves the “core missions” of the SFWMD:  Flood Control, Water Quality protection/improvements, Water Supply, Natural Resource protection and restoration.
Comments MUST be submitted through the electronic forms on the District’s Web Page.   You can access the web page, review detailed descriptions and many photographs of each of the properties, and submit comments at:

** The Florida Conservation Coalition has included a “one-click option” to help those who want a convenient way to reach those who need to be contacted, but it is technically impossible to make this function with all email clients. There will also be a downloadable and printable text version that can be copied into your email, but you will have to also place the addresses individually.  We are sorry for the additional time that this second option might require but that is the state of current technology.**

Florida Conservation Coalition

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