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DEP Reconsiders on Some Conservation Land Proposed as Surplus

September 4, 2013 | WMFE - The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is paring down its list of proposed surplus conservation land. Environmentalists were outraged by a proposal to sell off parcels of land from Anastasia State Park to the Florida Keys.

After identifying up to $50 million in surplus land the Department of Environmental Protection is now removing hundreds of acres from the list, including 350 acres in Wekiwa Springs State Park.

Department officials and lawmakers were at the state park near Orlando Wednesday, as Gov. Rick Scott announced a $37 million cash infusion to help clean up polluted springs.

Lee Constantine represented Central Florida as a Republican in the Legislature for nearly 20 years. He passed legislation in 2004 to protect the Wekiwa Springs.

"Those lands were identified specifically that they had to stay in conservation in perpetuity. I think that they recognize that now, and they have told me they are going to take them out."

DEP Secretary Hershel Vinyard says the Wekiwa Springs State Park land has been removed from the list temporarily, pending a legal review.

He says the proposed surplus land list was revealed to the public before the department's own lawyers reviewed it because the department wanted to involve the public early.

Charles Lee of Audubon of Florida says some of the Wekiwa Springs State Park land is in the highest recharge area for the springs. 

"It's not unusual to go through a land inventory and remove and sell parcels that are of no environmental value. The problem with the Department of Environmental Protection is that they don't appear to be doing a very good job."

The department is removing other land from the list, too, after an initial title review.   

Public hearings are planned throughout the state.


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