DeSantis’ inaction may cost Florida grant money to purchase conservation areas. At the very least it will needlessly cost the taxpayers money. Just as with the water management boards, he has failed to fill required numbers on Florida Communities Trust* governing board, and thus there are not enough members for a quorum. They have already lost one meeting because of this. Florida Communities Trust is housed in the FDEP. See the definition below.
Asked for a reason as to why he left the Suwannee River Water Management District board without a quorum, a spokesperson for DeSantis gave the lame and laughable excuse that he was taking time to be extra careful because the board position was very important.
So we wonder why the governor is so challenged with this simple task. We know it is not because he is busy corresponding with nominations because our two efforts at nominations to the Suwannee River Water Management Board of Directors received no acknowledgement from his office either time.
Maybe DeSantis just doesn’t give a hoot about the environment.
*Florida Communities Trust (FCT) assists communities in protecting important natural resources, providing recreational opportunities and preserving Florida’s traditional working waterfronts through the competitive criteria in the Parks and Open Space Florida Forever Grant Program and the Stan Mayfield Working Waterfronts Florida Forever Grant Program. These local land acquisition grant programs provide funding to local governments and eligible nonprofit organizations to acquire land for parks, open space, greenways and projects supporting Florida’s seafood harvesting and aquaculture industries. The source of funding for Florida Communities Trust comes from Florida Forever proceeds.
The original article can be seen at this link at Yahoo.com.
Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
– A river is like a life: once taken,
it cannot be brought back © Jim Tatum
Land trust lacks a quorum
Vacancies block Florida board from meeting on land preservation grants.
BY TRACEY MCMANUS
Times Staff Writer March 2, 2021
Both Pinellas County groups that submitted state applications for a limited amount of 2021 land acquisition dollars were already facing stiff competition.
Sixteen applicants statewide have asked for a combined $27.3 million from a $10 million pot of Florida Communities Trust funding.
But now, their chances of obtaining state grants to preserve greenspace are even slimmer.
The five-seat Florida Communities Trust governing board has two vacancies, because Gov. Ron DeSantis has not appointed new members. Without the four members required for a quorum, the first-quarter meeting where the board normally votes on grants has not been scheduled, according to Shannon N. Herbon, public relations manager for Florida Department of Environmental Protection, which administers the program.
Through a spokesperson, DeSantis declined to answer when he intends to fill the vacancies or whether appointments will come in time to schedule a first-quarter meeting to award grants.
“Governor DeSantis is reviewing applications for the board and will appoint individuals whom he feels will best fulfill the critical mission of the Florida Communities Trust,” press secretary Cody McCloud said in a one-sentence statement.
The Legislature over the past decade has drastically slashed funding for Florida Forever Trust Fund, the umbrella program for land conservation and acquisition.
Between 2000 and 2008, the Florida Communities Trust segment, which local governments and the public can tap to acquire land, received $66 million a year. It had no funding in eight of the last 12 years, and $10 million for all applicants statewide for 2021 awards, according to data provided by Department of Environmental Protection. DeSantis’s proposed 2021-2022 budget has $50 million for Florida Forever but no funding for Florida Communities Trust, according to Lindsay Cross, government relations director for Florida Conservation Voters. And the lack of a quorum to dis burse the 2021 funding has created worry among local officials depending on state assistance to save greenspace from development and make it accessible to the public.
WK Preservation Group, a nonprofit formed by neighbors trying to buy 14 acres of virgin woods on West Klosterman Road in Tarpon Springs, applied for $2 million from the state. The funds would go towards the $3 million the group needs to buy the acreage from Pinellas County Schools and combine it with the adjacent Mariner’s Point Management Area, 76 acres of non-public access land Pinellas County has conserved for three decades.
After initially putting the 14 acres out to bid to developers early last year, Pinellas Schools gave WK Preservation time to raise funds to buy the property. But the state grant was a major factor in their grassroots strategy, said WK Preservation President Tex Carter.
“It does create a problem for us,” Carter said. “I really feel like DeSantis does need to appoint people so those of us who depend on government functioning properly are able to depend on it.”
The nonprofit has raised under $100,000 towards its $3 million goal in pledges and private donations since November, but Carter said the group is pursuing $1 million in additional grants.
Pinellas County has applied for $2.4 million from Florida Communities Trust to assist in its $3.5 million contribution towards the City of Dunedin’s purchase of 44 acres on Keene Road formerly owned by the late philanthropist Gladys Douglas.
If the county receives the $2.4 million state grant, Pinellas will keep $1.5 million as a reimbursement of its $3.5 million contribution to the purchase. The remaining $900,000 in state funding would go towards preparing the property for public use, according to Dunedin Mayor Julie Ward Bujalski….
“The City of Dunedin wants to get the general public on the property to enjoy it as soon as humanly possible,” Bujalski said. “FCT is woefully underfunded to begin with, and now to not have a quorum on the board to look at some opportunities that could happen in the state to preserve land that the voters voted on is highly disappointing.”
Contact Tracey McManus at [email protected] or 727-445-4151. Follow @TroMcManus.