St. Petersburg, FL -- A plan to sell state land to purchase other property is coming under fire from some conservationists.
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is looking to sell roughly 5,000 acres of state land in more than 30 different counties. The goal is to raise about $50 million through the sale and then take that money to purchase other property.
"What we're attempting to do here is look at land here that may have a lower conservation value that we can sell in order to buy more valuable conservation land," DEP Spokesperson Patrick Gillespie said Monday.
But Kent Bailey of the Sierra Club predicted it's a plan that the state will eventually regret.
"The Sierra Club is very concerned that we're going to look back on this as a tragic mistake because we're going to lose properties that we'll never be able to replace," Bailey told 10 News.
Bailey also questioned the timing of such a potential sale, adding this is the time to buy because of depressed values.
Gillespie says the land identified for possible sale represents only 0.2% of the property currently owned by the state.
However, 5.4 acres of the land that could be sold, is part of the Allen David Broussard Catfish Creek Preserve State Park in Polk County. Selling that land would be a slap in the face, says Dr. William Broussard, who along with his wife helped raise money to purchase the land for the preserve back in 1990. The preserve is named in honor of Broussard's son.
"Yeah, I can sort of get it, but I don't in any way approve and it's just hard to imagine selling conservation land to buy conservation land," Broussard said.
Any sale would have to be approved by the governor and his cabinet.
The state DEP wants to hear from the public about the possible sale. Florida residents can email their comments to ARC_mailinglist@dep.state.fl.us.
A complete list of the sites being considered for sale can be found here.
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