JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is considering selling pieces of state parks and forests that it has deemed are no longer valuable to state conservation goals.
The DEP began reviewing possible parcels to sell earlier this year, after state lawmakers approved $20 million to buy new conservation lands that would better protect water resources and military installations.
As early as next spring, up to $50 million worth of public land could also be sold to help fund the new land under the long-term Forever Florida conservation plan.
The DEP's current list of properties includes 170 parcels in 67 state parks and forests, five of which are in Duval, St. John's, Clay, and Nassau counties. (See the full list here: http://www.dep.state.fl.us/lands/assessment/documents/PotentialSiteList.pdf
Nina Briggs live next door to the piece of Duval County's Pumpkin Hill Creek Preserve that is on the list. Briggs has been trying to buy the lot for years.
"They kept telling us, 'No, we're not interested. We're going to hang onto it.' We have 4.5 acres and this would allow us to add another .5 to .75 of an acre and be sure it's never developed. We now want to make sure it doesn't go to another owner."
Patrick Gillespie, spokesman for the DEP, says the effort is still in the preliminary planning stages, but that educational groups will get first dibs on properties, followed by the local city and county for the appraised values. If they don’t bid then anyone or business could move in as long as they meet zoning requirements. There are no restrictions in place for who could purchase the property, but those could be enforced eventually.
"There’s a lot of different potential buyers for different types of land so there are a lot of options out there."
What land is sold and who can buy it will depend a lot on public feedback, which the state began collecting Wednesday.
Briggs says she plans to be part of that conversation.
"I don't know what a business would do with it, but yeah, that would bother me, and it would certainly bother us if it's a private individual because they would be right up here against our property."
Department data including public feedback will be presented to Board of Trustees in early September, and public workshops will be held regionally in September and October at a time to be determined.
For now, the public is invited to participate in two online webinars Thursday, August 22, from 6-8 p.m. and Friday, August 23 from 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
For more information on the land sale visit and webinars, visit: http://www.dep.state.fl.us/lands/assessment/default.htm.
For more information on Forever Florida, visit: http://www.dep.state.fl.us/lands/fl_forever.htm