Nathan Crabbe has an editorial in the Gainesville Sun Feb. 8, 2016 about those who continue to erode our resources. This is HB 1075 and companion bill SB 1290. Among other bad things, the most horrid part of this piece of terrible legislation is the so-called “water resource development infrastructure.”
This could be used to facilitate the pumping of millions and millions of gallons of water from the Ocklawaha and St Johns Rivers to the greater Orlando area so developers could become even richer and fatter. Sen. Charlie Dean’s bad water bill recently passed smooths the way for this with the Central Florida Water Initiative. St Johns district managers deny this plan.
Not applicable to the Santa Fe? In the works is a plan to pipe water from the upper Suwannee to Falling Creek sink. To what end? That is unclear. The clear part is that our managers will spend $48 million of taxpayers’ money.
Continue reading for the article or go to this link for the original. Thanks go to Nathan Crabbe and the Sun for airing this issue.Editorial: Another assault on our parks
Published: Monday, February 8, 2016 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, February 5, 2016 at 11:56 a.m.
The assault on Florida’s park and conservation lands continues in Tallahassee, as a new bill introduced under the guise of improving management of state lands proposes using Amendment 1 money for massive water transfer projects and allowing landowners with property adjacent to state-owned lands to buy those state lands in exchange for not developing their existing properties.
The legislation — HB 1075 and its companion, SB 1290 — seems to be a special-interest solution in search of a pubic-policy problem.
The 134-page bill, among other things, would allow the state to declare state conservation and park lands “surplus” if it was determined their “short-term management goals” were not being met. In other words, if land acquired for recreational purposes was not being used for recreation because of, say, a lack of funding, it could be declared surplus land and sold to private interests. It is too easy to see the chicanery that such a law would permit.
Another part of the bill would change the wording of existing law and allow state lands to be used for conservation or recreational purposes. The change in wording is significant because current law specifies the purpose for which state lands are acquired.
Under the proposed change, environmental advocates argue it would potentially open critical conservation and park lands to be converted to recreational uses, such as golf courses — a proposal Gov. Rick Scott floated a few years back before public outcry forced him to back down.
So this bill would open the door to easing the transfer of public park and conservation lands to private ownership, muddy the intended purpose of major public land acquisitions to — again — foster more private use and development and ease the process for selling off public lands by starving the so-called beast until they can be deemed surplus lands.
But the most troublesome part of HB 1075/SB 1290, is the provision that would allow spending money from Florida Forever, the state’s popular and successful conservation land acquisition program, to fund “water resource development infrastructure.” The bill specifically spells out the money — Amendment 1 money 75 percent of Florida voters said in 2014 they wanted earmarked to buy and protect sensitive lands and watersheds — would be used for to fund treatment, transmissions and distribution infrastructure.
Here’s how that could hit close to home. The newly enacted water policy bill the Legislature hurriedly passed the first week of the current session calls for enactment of the Central Florida Water Initiative. The initiative calls for pumping millions upon millions of gallons of water daily from the Ocklawaha and St. Johns rivers to quench the growing thirst of greater Orlando.
Building the pumping stations and some 500 miles of pipeline to do that will cost billions. This bill proposes using Amendment 1 money to pay the tab — and sap North Florida’s already dwindling water supply. And proponents have the audacity to argue such massive drawdowns of our surface water are good for the environment.
This is another bad piece of environmental legislation undoubtedly being pushed by big business special interests. The bill is already moving through the House committee process.
But in the Senate, state Sen. Charlie Dean, R-Inverness, who represents is chairman of the Senate Environmental Protection and Conservation Committee, can stop this attack on our treasured state parks and conservation lands by refusing to bring it before his panel. We urge Dean to stop this madness and let Florida’s nationally recognized park system remain such and let Amendment 1 do what the voters intended.
— This editorial originally appeared in the Ocala Star-Banner, one of The Sun’s sister publications.