Florida Land Sale Questioned

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Florida land may soon be on the auction block.

Florida's Department of Environmental Protection has a list of nearly
100 parcels for possible sale.

"We just don't understand how the process could reach a suggestion that those should be further considered," said Charles Lee of Audubon Florida.

Lee was part of a steady stream of environmentalists and citizens to give their views about selling Florida land currently owned for conservation or recreation at a public hearing.

The idea is to sell unuseable property to buy better land.

After, it's first ever review of all the state's property, the Department of Environmental Protection currently lists 96 parcels for possible sale, including several spots in the panhandle.

One of them is in Tate's Hell State Forest.

It's one of 29 properties on the list Lee says should not be sold.

"They're actually proposing a property on the sound that is partially going out into St. Joe's Sound," said Lee.

"What we've done is a scientific assessment to evaluate all this land," said Department of Environmental Protection Spokesman Patrick Gillespie "We're taking in public comment and listening to what people have to say," he said.

That public comment has already resulted in dozens of parcels being taken off the list for possible sale.

"We've been presented information about imperiled species about joint ownership issues, title issues, legal issues and those have been factors in removing some of the land from the initial list," said Gillespie.

"There are some parcels on the list that make sense," said Lee. "But unfortunately, the filter has not been fine enough to screen out the ones that have true environmental value," he said.

There are going to be four more regional meetings around Florida to get public comment.

Those meetings will take place in Pensacola, Naples, Melbourne and Orlando.

Universities, state agencies, cities and counties get the first crack at buying the parcels before private developers when the land is approved for sale.

Sales are expected to take place next year.

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