Land & Water Conservation Forum. March 19, 2015

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Nathan Crabbe will moderate a Land & Water Conservation Forum on March 19 at 7 pm at Pugh Hall on the UF campus.  Panelist will include Ramesh Buch, who manages the Alachua County Forever land conservation program, Greg Galpin, a Plum Creek timber company official,  Pegeen Hanrahan, who helped generate Amendment 1, and Charlie Houder, former employee of SWRMD.

This forum is co-sponsored by UF’s Bob Graham Center for Public Service.  One of the goals of the forum is to help our elected officials in Tallahassee  understand better the wishes of their constituents who put them in office in regard to our water resources.    We sincerely hope our officials will take note.

Go this this link to see Nathan Crabbe’s original article in the Gainesville Sun, or continue reading here to see a reprint.

Land conservation is focus of forum

Published: Sunday, March 8, 2015 at 6:01 a.m.:
Last Modified: Thursday, March 5, 2015 at 5:03 p.m.

 

Environmental advocates such as Florida Springs Institute Director Bob Knight have said, “A spring with no flow is just a hole in the ground.”

It follows reason that saving our springs will require protecting the land around them, so the development and farms put there don’t deplete or pollute the groundwater feeding the springs.

A year ago this week, The Sun held the Fragile Springs forum to bring attention to the poor condition of our region’s springs. Knight and other panelists discussed their hopes for state lawmakers to better address the threats to water quality and quantity in our state.

Unfortunately, our state lawmakers weren’t listening and failed to pass meaningful springs legislation last session. That failure, compounded by the Legislature’s refusal to properly fund land conservation programs, gave voters reason to overwhelmingly approve Amendment 1 in the fall election.

The amendment dedicates revenue from an existing real-estate tax to land and water conservation projects. But it requires lawmakers to allocate the money.

Once again, they seem to be ignoring public sentiment that more must be done to protect our natural resources. Instead, they are considering spending much of the money on infrastructure projects that might actually encourage development in environmentally sensitive areas.

The Sun has run editorials, columns and letters to bring attention to this issue, but more must be done. That’s why we’re holding a Land and Water Conservation forum.

The forum will be held March 19 at 7 p.m. at the University of Florida’s Pugh Hall. The event and parking are free and open to the public.

UF’s Bob Graham Center for Public Service is co-sponsoring the event. It will be streamed live at www.bobgrahamcenter.ufl.edu.

The forum will include a panel discussion featuring some of the foremost experts on land conservation in our area. They are Ramesh Buch, who manages the Alachua County Forever land conservation program; Greg Galpin, a Plum Creek timber company official who has worked on local conservation easements; Pegeen Hanrahan, former Gainesville mayor and deputy director of the Amendment 1 campaign; and Charlie Houder, who spent 28 years in public land acquisition and management with the Suwannee and St. Johns water management districts.

I’ll be moderating. Suggestions for questions can be emailed to [email protected]. There also will be time for audience questions at the event.

I’m sure there will be plenty for the Plum Creek official in particular. As we consider land conservation and easements in our community, some being proposed in exchange for development rights, having these kind of public discussions will hopefully be helpful in better considering the issues at hand.

County voters have shown their support for land conservation through the passage of the two ballot initiatives that funded the Alachua County Forever program. The wide support for Amendment 1 showed that voters across the state share their views.

Hopefully events such as The Sun’s forum can help convince state lawmakers to take those concerns seriously.

OSFR is grateful to Nathan Crabbe and the Gainesville Sun for allowing us to reprint in full the articles from their newspaper.

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