d4 /4 Zt l MONDAY, APRIL 1, 1991
The state promised of semitropical wetlands and for- bungled public lands program as,
millions to save sensitive ests, a vast swath of the Green "a breach of faith. Representa-
Swamp, may be lost to the public, tions were made that this was a
areas from development. Worse still, the loss would be 10-year program."
Now, with no money only one of many in Florida. State agencies also have been
available, the sites are A year after Preservation left in the lurch: After being told
slipping away. 2000 was billed as the nation's to expect Preservation 2000
most ambitious effort to save en-. money, the Southwest Florida
vironmentally endangered lands, Water Management District
By DAVID K. ROGERS the program stands today as a (Swiftmud) has been negotiating
Trnm Staff witer to buy $30-million worth of public
victim of empty assurances, a lands in fiscal year 1991 alone.
The buyer is willing and so is faltering economy and a balky Some of those sites include:
the seller. And though the two Florida Legislature. Instead of a
sides are close to terms, it turns decade-long plan to buy $3-billion; a The 25,000-acre .AgriTim-
out the buyer's wallet is empty worth of natural areas, Preser-: ber tract, located along the west-
right when it was supposed to be ovation 2000 today lives m name* ern side of the Green Swamp in
full. only with local governments left' eastern Pasco County. If pur-
holding the bag. chased, it would link state-owned
As a result, a rare chance to Polk County Commissioner; lands surrounding it.
purchase nearly 40 square miles Marlene Young describes the; Please see LAND 6B
A 40-square-mile chunk of the Green Swamp near the Pasco County line is up for sale. The state
wants to preserve the environmentally important land, but there's no money in the till.
weren't aware of that until recently.
Lo d from 1B Plans now call for the first year's bond sale this
summer. Legislators must come up with $30-million
The 20,000-acre Lake Manatee lower water- to pay for the interest on those bonds.
shed, a project designed to protect the drinking A the $
water supplies of Manatee County and Bradenton. As the law is now written the $30-million would
The 5,000-acre Upper Myakka River project, come from the state's general revenue fund.
to help preserve another stretch of the Myakka from In other words, money for Preservation 2000
further development, must compete with money for education, health
9,000 acres at the north end of Lake Panasof- services and roads.
kee, to help protect the lake's water and preserve Legislators say that during the recession, gener-
the surrounding lands. al revenues have been strained to their limits as the
South Florida has programs also in jeopardy, state's income from taxes and fees declines.
such as the restoration projects for the Kissimmee
River and the Everglades agricultural areas south of "This is not the year to fund environmental
Lake Okeechobee. programs when schoolchildren are in jeopardy," said
With so little money in state coffers, legislators Gayle Andrews, spokeswoman for Senate President
say that any efforts to purchase much property this Gwen Margolis.
year under Preservation 2000 are dead. "There is, I believe, a sincere commitment to
Even though leaders in Florida's House and (Preservation 2000) in the House, and certainly by
Senate have told Gov. Lawton Chiles not to waste the speaker, but this is a lean budget year," said
his energy, the governor said last week that he'll try Randy Lewis, press secretary for House Speaker
to reawaken Preservation 2000. T. K. Wetherell. "It's probably not going to go
Meanwhile, Florida environmentalists blame for- anywhere this year, at least on the House side."
mer Gov. Bob Martinez for the mess, saying Chiles L l g o a f
inherited it upon assuming office. Local government officials are furious at that
inherited it upon assuming oce.prospect because they were told by the state that
Florida would offer the most help to those who
Local government officials helped themselves.
are furious at that prospect Counties that agreed to tax themselves to raise
because they were told by land preservation funds would get even more Pres-
the state that Florida would ervation 2000 money as matching grants.
offer the most help to those So far, at least five counties Polk, Volusia,
Palm Beach, Seminole and Martin have done just
who helped themselves, that.
Sw a Commissioners from those counties teamed up
"It was all smoke and mirrors, as usual," Talla- with environmentalists last week in Tallahassee to
hassee lawyer and Florida Audubon Society lobbyist protest the program's lapse.
David Gluckman said last week of Martinez's plan.
Fourteen months ago, Martinez proposed that "This is a serious back-away," Seminole County
the state sell $3-billion in bonds throughout the Commissioner Pat Warren said.
1990s, $300-million a year for the decade. A day later, they were backed up by Chiles: "We
The money would be used to purchase public have to send a clear signal that we intend to keep our
lands for a number of uses, everything from protec- 10-year commitment for this. That's part of the
tion of wildlife habitat, aquifer recharge and recre- bargain and part of the commitment, that the coun-
ational uses to historic preservation, ties would come forward as the state did."
"We can buy up environmentally sensitive lands Gluckman and other environmentalist are
that would otherwise be lost to future generations, sched m wth et and other lgislae
or we can let a gold opportunity slip by," Martinez tive leaders this week to see if a possible solution can
said at the time. "We can greatly increase our be found before the end of the session.
land-acquisition capabilities, or we can continue to
fall further behind each year. I say it's time we move "It's grim, and we're all in the same boat with
forward to safeguard our heritage before these this budget, but we want to ask them why this
special lands are developed or priced beyond our particular program is being asked to take a 100
grasp." percent funding hit like this when others are not,"
Laudable, but Gluckman pointed out last week Gluckman said. "If they can show us other programs
that the first year's worth of bonds were never sold. taking 100 percent hits, then maybe we'll just have
Even Chiles and members of the state Cabinet to swallow it."