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Cabinet Eyeing St. Johns River Conservation Easement

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Governor Rick Scott and the Cabinet are expected Tuesday to approve a nearly $6 million deal to preserve a giant swath of land along the St. Johns River between Greencove Springs and Palatka.

The conservation easement encompasses some 5,000 acres and is part of the Florida Forever, St. Johns River Blueway.

The landowners will be allowed to continue harvesting timber as long as they agree not to sell out to developers – and that’s fair, says Audubon of Florida director Charles Lee.

“From our point of view that’s fine. We need to see the protection of current forestry and ranch lands in those uses as we move forward, and this will achieve that over a very exceptional piece of property.”

Another benefit for taxpayers, Lee says, is the state won’t have to manage the land.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection says the state is paying just 89 percent of the appraised value of the land.