*From the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, 12/12/2014:
TALLAHASSEE – The Acquisition and Restoration Council compiled the rankings for the 119 Florida Forever Project Priority List for the upcoming year at their final meeting of 2014. The projects are ranked within six categories: Critical Natural Lands, Partnerships and Regional Incentives Projects, Less-than-fee Projects, Climate Change Lands, Substantially Complete Projects, and Critical Historical Resources. This new ARC-approved list is anticipated to be submitted to the Governor and Cabinet, acting as the Board of Trustees, prior to May 2015.
“I am pleased we completed the Florida Forever Project Priority List,” DEP Deputy Secretary of Land and Recreation Katy Fenton said. “The Florida Forever Program is extremely important and I think the rankings are strong. We had a lot of great input from the public and are happy so many Floridians are engaged in the process.”
Prior to the rankings, four new projects were added to the Florida Forever Project List. The projects are: Myakka Island Conservation Corridor, which was added to the existing Myakka Ranchlands Project; Upper Lake Lafayette Aquifer Protection, which was added the existing Wakulla Springs Protection Zone Project; Arbuckle Creek Watershed; and Coastal Headwaters Longleaf Forest.
The two-day meeting, held in Tallahassee, also saw the approval of the much-anticipated management amendment plan for Silver Springs State Park.Three 10-year updates to conservation management plans were also approved for the Chipola Greenway, Hungryland Wildlife Management Area and Chassahowitzka Wildlife and Environmental Area. The initial management plan for the Florida Horse Park was presented and approved.
Dr. Peter Frederick from the University of Florida received a commemorative plaque in gratitude for his six years of service on the Acquisition and Restoration Council. Frederick was a Governor’s appointee with specific expertise in environmental sciences. This was Frederick's last meeting.
ARC is a 10-member group with representatives from four state agencies, four appointees of the Governor, one appointee by the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and one appointee by the Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services. ARC has responsibility for the evaluation, selection and ranking of state land acquisition projects on the Florida Forever Priority List, as well as the review of management plans and land uses for all state-owned conservation lands.
To view the ARC-approved Florida Forever rankings, click here.