Jefferson County Aims To Keep Wetlands

By: Garin Flowers Email
By: Garin Flowers Email

By Garin Flowers
July 29, 2013

Jefferson County, FL - Kenneth Hudson, 76, has had fond memories of Wards Creek in Jefferson County since the age of 9.

He joined dozens of others at a county commission meeting Monday night fighting for it, as could soon be up for grabs for private ownership.

"The people have enjoyed this property for 130 years, it does not need to be taken away," he said.

"Wards Creek means a place for the public to go out and have recreation where they can fish or they can hunt or they can take their children and their grandchildren and enjoy it."

The state of Florida owns the Wards Creek wetlands, 3,700-plus acres of it.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection now has decided to let it go.

They first pitched the land to other state agencies. Since then, they have opened it up to the county.

Jefferson County Commissioners voted in favor of acquiring the land.

"It was very important to the residents of Jefferson County and not only to Jefferson County, but to anybody that comes into our region and enjoys that piece of property," said Betsy Barfield, a Jefferson County Commissioner.

Commissioner Hines Boyd was the only one to vote no. He believes the land should remain in state hands.

"I don't think the state should ask the county to assume responsibilities, especially a small county like Jefferson, because we simply don't have the resources to do it."

The DEP has not appraised the property yet, so they haven't released a purchase price. We asked them if leasing was an option for the county.

A DEP spokesman said it's premature to discuss a possible lease with the county until commissioners decide whether they are interested in Wards Creek. With the vote Monday night, talks could start soon.


By Garin Flowers
July 29, 2013

Jefferson County, FL - Jefferson County plans to fight for a popular hunting and fishing spot-- before it goes on the state auction block. If it ends up in the hands of a private owner, it would be off limits to the public.

An emergency meeting was called today by the Jefferson County Commission. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection owns Wards Creek, located in this County off Highway 90. DEP has notified the County they plan to sell the 3,750 acre wetlands. They have the option to sell it to Jefferson County or lease it to another state agency.

But, it can't be leased to the County-- Their only option is they can buy the land. Their problem is that as a small county, they can't afford to purchase it.

At their meeting today, they have a resolution up for vote that says the county does not support it being purchased by a private owner... So they will petition the state to allow them to lease it.

DEP says they have not appraised the land yet and do not have an estimate on the purchase price.

WCTV will bring you results from the meeting tonight on Eyewitness News at 11.


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