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Public Invited To Weigh In On Proposed Conservation Land Sales

Jessica Palombo

The proposed sale of Florida conservation lands is the topic of four public hearings scheduled over the next two weeks. The land list that will be presented is significantly shorter than the one officials shared at a Tallahassee hearing last month.

More than a thousand acres of conservation land have been culled from the proposed sale list since environmentalists expressed serious concerns about it earlier this year. One of the most vocal critics at August’s meeting was the Audubon Society’s Charles Lee. He says the shorter list does little to quell his fears.

“Unfortunately the process that the Department of Environmental Protection has utilized appears to have some pretty big flaws," he says.

Lee concedes sometimes the state purchases low-value lands as part of bigger deals, and it makes sense to turn those into cash. But he says he’s perplexed how lands he considers critical to water quality and wildlife habitat remain on the list. Hearings are scheduled in Sept. 30 in Pensacola, Oct. 3 in Fort Myers, Oct. 8 in Viera and Oct. 9 in Orlando.