SUMMARY OF INTERIM PROJECT
A REVIEW OF THE MANAGEMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES LANDS
AND THE ECONOMIC IMPACT OF PUBLIC ACQUISITION OF
Presented at Joint Meeting of the Committee on Agriculture, Committee on
Environmental Protection and the Committee on Water and Resource Management on
January 9, 1997.
Publicly owned land purchased by the state for conservation, preservation, or
recreation (natural resources lands) in Florida is a tremendous and growing asset. The
state of Florida, the federal government, water management districts, and local
governments collectively own over 40 percent of the land mass of Florida according to
recent estimates."' In conjunction with this ever expanding asset, driven by Florida's
landmark land acquisition programs, a series of issues have become particularly
relevant conceding the management of these lands. In summary these are:
Compliance Issues Are state-owned natural resource lands being used for the
purpose for which they were purchased?
Management Issues Is the state realizing the highest and best use in maximizing
total public benefits?
Funding Issues Is the agency charged with managing state-owned lands planning,
requesting, or receiving adequate funding for management needs?
Bond Issues What management activities are allowable under the Preservation 2000
Agricultural Issues What are the state's economic impacts of public acquisition of
agricultural and forestry lands?
To address some Of these issues, in 1994 the Legislature enacted Chapter 94-240,
Laws of Florida (LO.F.), which sought in part to emphasize accountability of land
management. The law increased funding for land management activities, and
emphasized more intensive planning, at an earlier stage in the process, for lands
acquired by state agencies. It created the "management prospectus," which was in
effect a mini-management plan for lands placed on the Conservation and Recreation
Lands (CARL) list.
Three House bills filed for the 1996 Legislative Session addressed management of
publicly owned environmenta/recreational lands. None passed. Together, the bills
would have promoted the leaseback of environmental lands, where appropriate and not
harmful to the natural resources, to agricultural interests; added more requirements in
management plans, such as separate plans for control of exotic plants on public lands;
and reinforced the deadlines for management plans. In addition, the legislatively
'House Agriculture and Consumer Services Committee in-house memorandum (1996)
created Water Management District Review Commission spent the last two years
researching such issues as land management and developed a series of
Related to the overall land management issues are specific questions concerning the
acquisition and management practices utilized for agricultural and forestry lands.
Through acquisition these lands are converted to public ownership and as a result,
counties or municipalities may see a decrease in their tax roll revenues or some level of
positive or negative economic impact. From a management prospectus an assertion is
made that public land management decisions influence the historic reliance on these
lands for agricultural and timber production.
In addition to the general concerns about the acquisition of agricultural and forestry
lands, the 1996 Legislature enacted Chapter 96-207, L.O.F., which provides for the
acquisition of farmlands around Lake Apopka as part of the Surface Water and
Improvement Management Plan (SWIM). The potential economic impact of converting
this land to public ownership has generated high interest.
There is a two-fold objective to this report. First, the report provides an overview of
current practices and processes involved in the management of natural resources
lands. In conjunction with this overview, the overall economic impact of land
management and the results of the public acquisition of agricultural and forestry lands
are explored. Second, the report details the positive and negative outcomes associated
with the land management and acquisition issues framed in the opening portion of this
In conducting this interim project committee staff
reviewed the law, literature, department and water management district
rules, and policies and procedures related to land management practices;
conducted formal interviews of state and district administrators,
environmental organizations, and other affected stakeholders;
conducted site visits in Pasco, Taylor, Santa Rosa, DeSoto, Polk, and
Palm Beach Counties;
developed questionnaires regarding financial and management issues
that were sent to the state's land management entities;
attended a workshop that addressed the status and progress concerning
land management issues;
utilized information received from the State Board of Administration,
Division of Bond Finance and the Department of Environmental
Protection, Division of State Lands, related to P2000 bond restrictions.
utilized the assistance and contributions from staff of the Finance and
Taxation Committee, Joint Legislative Management Committee (JLMC)
and the Advisory Council on Intergovernmental Relations.
As a result of this research staff has developed the following findings:
1. Required land management plans are not being completed within statutory
2. Efforts to ensure compliance with adopted management plans are currently
3. Development of management plans follows generally accepted procedures.
4. The use of alternative management strategies and implementation of multiple-
use practices are widespread but the methodology for evaluating options is not
5. Legislative budget requests for land management funding do not accurately
6. There is a lack of long-term funding data.
7. There are economic disincentives and adverse tax implications to conducting
revenue-generating activities on state-owned lands.
8. Some local governments depend heavily on agricultural and forestry production
to boost their economies. Public acquisition of such lands may have definite
economic impact on these governments.
9. Public acquisition of private-sector agricultural and forestry lands contributes to
the statewide loss of private agricultural and forestry land. However, other
factors such as urban development and government regulations may play a
greater role in some area of the state.