BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF THE INTERNAL IMPROVEMENT TRUST FUND
OCTOBER 26, 1999
Item 1 Minutes
Submittal of the Minutes of the September 14, 1999 Cabinet Meeting.
Substitute Item 2 View Properties, Ltd., Option Agreement/Tenoroc Fish Management Area/ FWCC
REQUEST: Consideration of an option agreement to acquire 976.5 acres adjoining the Tenoroc Fish Management Area by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission under the Preservation 2000 program from View Properties, Ltd.
APPLICANT: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
LOCATION: Sections 21, 28, 29, 30, 31, and 32, Township 27 South, Range 24 East; and Section 05, Township 28 South, Range 24 East
APPRAISED BY SELLER’S TRUSTEES’
REVIEW Hupp Roper APPROVED PURCHASE PURCHASE OPTION
NO. PARCEL ACRES (06/17/99) (04/20/99) VALUE PRICE PRICE DATE
917001 View Props. 976.5 $6,640,000 $6,210,000 $6,640,000 * $6,555,200 01/11/00
*On May 27, 1999, the seller acquired 2,164 acres, of which this parcel was a part, for approximately $14,000,000.
STAFF REMARKS: This acquisition was negotiated by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWCC) under the P2000 program. This property adjoins the Tenoroc Fish Management Area and is on the current FWCC acquisition list.
All mortgages and liens will be satisfied at the time of closing. In the event the commitment for title insurance, to be obtained prior to closing, reveals any other encumbrances which may affect the value of the property or the proposed management of the property, staff will so advise the Board of Trustees prior to closing.
The seller will provide an environmental site assessment, a boundary survey and a title insurance policy prior to closing. The acquiring agency will reimburse the seller’s cost of the environmental site assessment and boundary survey, contingent upon FWCC and Department of Environmental Protection, Division of State Lands approval of each item along with their associated costs and upon conveyance of the property to the state.
This acquisition consists of roughly the southern half of the Bridgewater Development of Regional Impact (DRI) tract. Although the entire tract is included on the FWCC acquisition list, the owner is only willing to sell the southern half, which is the portion that abuts the Tenoroc Fish Management Area. The seller has agreed to vacate that portion of the DRI which affects this site. Given the recent sale of the DRI parent tract, the parcel appears to be in imminent danger of development. The property is composed of reclaimed phosphate mine land with several phosphate pit lakes scattered throughout the tract. Most of the uplands on the tract are predominantly cleared pasture land surrounding the lakes, while a portion of the
property borders Lake Parker, a natural lake.
Acquisition of this land will create a more complete pattern of ownership for the fish management area, provide additional fish and wildlife habitat, increase public access and
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Agenda – October 26, 1999 Substitute Page Two
Substitute Item 2, cont.
enhance the overall management of the Tenoroc Fish Management Area. Bordering the western boundary of the Tenoroc Fish Management Area, the parcel provides additional watershed protection for Lake Parker. The shorelines of the lakes are succeeding to relatively native freshwater marsh cover with oaks and pine found intermittently on the site. The parcel provides habitat for a variety of wildlife, including several listed species such as, bald eagles, ospreys, sandhill cranes, wood storks, gopher tortoises, Sherman’s fox squirrels, and alligators.
The property will be managed by the FWCC as an addition to the Tenoroc Fish Management Area for natural resource conservation and resource-based public outdoor recreation within a multiple-use management regime for the increasingly urbanizing Central Florida Region.
This acquisition is consistent with section 187.201(10), F.S., the Natural Systems and Recreational Lands section of the State Comprehensive Plan.
(See Attachment 2, Pages 1-53)
Item 3 Annual Land Management Review Findings
REQUEST: Consideration of annual land management review team findings.
STAFF REMARKS: Section 259.036, F.S., requires the Board of Trustees, acting through the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), to conduct management reviews of selected conservation, preservation and recreation lands titled in the Board of Trustees to determine whether those lands are being managed for the purposes for which they were acquired and in accordance with their adopted management plans. The legislation requires the DEP to submit a report of its findings to the Board of Trustees no later than the second board meeting in October of each year.
Properties to be reviewed were selected from a database of Board of Trustees’ lands based on managing agency, plan due-dates, and geographic location. Review team members were selected in accordance with the requirements of the legislation to include representatives of the following: (1) the county or local community in which the parcel is located; (2) the DEP’s Division of Recreation and Parks; (3) the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Division of Forestry; (4) the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission; (5) the DEP’s district office; (6) the private sector; (7) the local Soil and Water Conservation District board of supervisors; and (8) a conservation organization. In addition to the above, DEP also invited participation from the Department of State’s Division of Historical Resources, and most recently has added legislators whose districts encompass the management units. DEP also received input from the Florida Natural Areas Inventory, and other groups, including DEP’s Bureau of Coastal and Aquatic Managed Areas and Bureau of Invasive Plant Management.
To assist the team in conducting its evaluation, a checklist was provided to each team member along with a copy of the current management plan, management policy statement, management prospectus, and related documents when available. For each item in each section the scores for all team members were averaged. Some items received high scores (more than 2.5) in the field review, which indicates that exceptional management actions are being taken. These items are identified in the checklist results as "Exceptional." Items for which the average score was low (less than or equal to 0.5 for plan review; less than or equal to 1.5 for field review)
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Agenda – October 26, 1999 Page Three
Item 3, cont.
are identified as "Inadequate" in the checklist results. In order to improve the review process, the management review team staff, along with advisors and site managers, inspected selected properties prior to the formal review to provide information necessary to meet required objectives. Participating state and local government agencies, soil and water conservation districts, and conservation groups have had continual input into the development and ongoing evolution of the review process. The DEP staff that coordinates the state’s land management review teams also met with representatives of the water management districts (WMD) to integrate management reviews where WMD lands are adjacent to Board of Trustees’ lands and when the Board of Trustees has joint ownership of parcels with a WMD.
Thirty-two reviews involving more than 544,000 acres of managed lands were conducted during the 1998-1999 fiscal year. Reports of the management review team findings are provided to the managing agencies and to the Land Acquisition and Management Advisory Council. Overall, the review teams found that the managers of these areas are dedicated professionals who are doing an excellent job with the resources available. The results of the reviews are summarized in the table below:
All of the properties reviewed were found to be managed for the purpose for which they were acquired; and actual management practices, including public access, were found to be in compliance with the management plans on all sites except the Bower Tract, which is managed by Hillsborough County. The Bower Tract review team members found that the actual management practices, including public access, were not in compliance with the management plan. The team found that the management plan did not adequately address several items, including upland natural communities, listed species, prescribed fire, non-native invasive species and surface water monitoring. The team recommended that Hillsborough County rewrite the plan as soon as possible to address these issues and to provide for less intensive use than is proposed in the current plan. Actual management practices, including prescribed burning, control of non-native plants, and inventories of listed species were also found to be inadequate. Staffing and funding were non-existent and, therefore, inadequate to properly manage the site. The team also found that the proposed construction of a multi-use paved trail and parking lot, and the existing public use of airboats and motorized boating, were not consistent with the preservation of the upland and estuarine resources, for which the property was acquired. Hillsborough County has made a concerted effort to coordinate with the DEP and has made progress toward resolving most of the management issues addressed by the review team. Subsequent to the review in July of 1998, Hillsborough County has obtained funding to construct perimeter fencing and has begun an extensive exotic plant removal program. DEP staff assisted Hillsborough County in preparing a new management plan that more accurately reflects actual management practices. Staff recommends that Hillsborough County retain management of this property. Pursuant to section 259.036(5), F.S., "…the managing agency must report to the board its reasons for managing the lands as it has." Hillsborough County provided DEP with this report.
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Agenda – October 26, 1999 Substitute Page Four
Item 3, cont.
At the request of several state agencies, DEP held a workshop in Tallahassee on June 3, 1999, to discuss proposed changes to the land management review checklist, report, and process. Representatives from state and local land management agencies, soil and water conservation districts, private interests, conservation organizations and other interested parties attended the workshop. All participants were given the opportunity to review and comment on the checklist, report and review process. DEP staff responded to comments from team members and managing agencies by revising components of the review process.
In February 1999, the state’s Land Acquisition and Management Advisory Council asked staff to coordinate an evaluation of scrub jay habitat conditions and scrub management practices on state-owned lands because of declining scrub jay populations. Staff assembled individuals with relevant expertise to conduct on-site evaluations around the state. A review of 29 selected properties owned by the Board of Trustees was conducted during June 8–10, 1999. The scrub review teams found that the scrub was too overgrown for scrub jays on 66 percent of the sites, and that the scrub did not have sufficient bare sand openings for acorn storage on 59 percent of the sites. In some cases the amount of habitat still in need of restoration is a reflection of the state owning the property for a short time. The managers were very receptive to the visiting experts and were eager to implement procedures to improve the habitat and increase the scrub jay population.
(See Attachment 3, Pages 1-8)
Substitute Item 4 U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs/Florida National Cemetery/ Withlacoochee State Forest
REQUEST: Consideration of a request for approval of (1) a determination that a 179.81-acre parcel of state-owned land in Sumter County no longer needs to be preserved for conservation purposes; (2) a determination that the 179.81 acres is surplus to the state’s needs; and (3) the conveyance of the 179.81-acre parcel to the federal government.
Deed No. 30436
APPLICANT: United States Department of Veterans Affairs
LOCATION: Section 32, Township 21 South, Range 21 East; and Section 05, Township 22 South, Range 21 East
CONSIDERATION: $11,572.57, to be deposited pursuant to section 253.034(6)(j), F.S.
STAFF REMARKS: Prior to 1958, the Withlacoochee State Forest (WSF) was owned and managed by the United States Forest Service (USFS). On September 15, 1958, the USFS executed a lease-purchase agreement transferring the property to the Florida Board of Forestry. The Florida Board of Forestry paid $7,312,154 to the federal government over a twenty-five year period. The initial ten years was interest free, and the interest rate for the remaining fifteen years was four percent per year on the unpaid balance. The final payment was made in October 1982, and title was transferred to the State of Florida in February 1983.
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Agenda – October 26, 1999 Substitute Page Five
Substitute Item 4, cont.
In 1985, the Board of Trustees donated 400 acres of the WSF to the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) for the establishment of the Florida National Cemetery. Last year the cemetery had a total of 4,866 interments and expects an average annual increase of nine percent. At this rate, the cemetery will run out of burial space by 2016. The DVA is now requesting an additional 179.81 acres to expand the cemetery. The additional land will allow the DVA to accommodate burials until at least 2030. The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Division of Forestry (Forestry), currently manages the WSF. Forestry has indicated that it is willing to release the land if the Board of Trustees approves the conveyance.
Pursuant to sections 253.111, and 253.115, F.S., the county and landowners within 500 feet of the subject property were notified of the DVA’s application. The Board of County Commissioners of Sumter County did not respond with a request for the land, but submitted a resolution in support of the conveyance to the DVA. Several letters of objection were received by the Department of Environmental Protection, Division of State Lands (DSL). Because of the controversial nature of the request (conversion of natural resource lands), DSL held a public hearing in Bushnell, Florida on July 23, 1999. Of the 145 people that signed in, 97 indicated support for the expansion, 24 were opposed, and 24 indicated no preference. The majority in attendance were local war veterans and their families that supported the expansion. Area hunters and horse stable owners opposed conveyance to DVA of the 179.81-acre parcel because of its high quality hunting habitat and horse trails, but most did not object to expanding the Cemetery to the south or east of the existing Cemetery on other state forest land. Objections from the Florida Chapter of the Sierra Club, National Wildlife Federation, and Florida Wildlife Federation have been expressed and were based on the loss of an area of sandhill community, which is rapidly being developed throughout the state and which supports several listed and endangered species. The environmental community has recommended locating a cemetery in Hamilton County or in South Florida, where it would be more convenient for veterans in other parts of the state.
On September 2, 1999, the Land Acquisition and Management Advisory Council (LAMAC) approved, pursuant to Article X, Section 18 of the Florida Constitution, a recommendation that the 179.81-acre parcel is no longer needed for conservation purposes. The land includes areas of planted pine, and the DVA has agreed to preserve the areas of sandhill community as it expands the cemetery. LAMAC also recommended that the lands be conveyed to the DVA subject to (1) the federal government conveying the mineral interests it holds in the state forest to the Board of Trustees; (2) the DVA agreeing not to request any additional lands for future expansion of the cemetery; and (3) the DVA’s commitment to preserve areas of sandhill community within the 179.81-acre parcel when it develops the cemetery.
When the state purchased the state forest, the federal government retained the mineral interests. DSL staff has been negotiating with the United States Forest Service (USFS) to acquire these interests, as well as federally-owned mineral interests at Blackwater River State Forest and several other state-owned and managed areas, and federally-owned lands at Rocky Bayou and Tate’s Hell Swamp. The state hopes to acquire these interests in property through an exchange with the federal government for state-owned lands and lands proposed for acquisition by the state that are within the boundaries of the national forests of Florida. DSL staff initially hoped to tie the cemetery lands into its negotiations with the USFS; however, difficulties arose in exchanging the property interests of one federal agency (USFS) to acquire land for a second federal agency (DVA).
DSL staff now proposes to convey the 179.81 acres to the federal government pursuant to section 253.034(6)(g), F.S., which provides that lands determined to be surplus pursuant to this section shall be sold for fair market value or the price paid by the state, whichever is
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Agenda – October 26, 1999 Substitute Page Six
Substitute Item 4, cont.
greater, except that the price of lands sold as surplus to any unit of government shall not exceed the price paid by the state to originally acquire the lands. The state paid $6,133,781 plus $1,178,373 interest, or $64.36 per acre, to acquire the 113,608.83-acre state forest. If the Board of Trustees approves a surplus land determination for the 179.81 acres, DSL staff will convey the land to the DVA for $11,572.57.
Pursuant to section 253.034(6)(g), F.S., a unit of government which acquires title pursuant to this section for less than fair market value may not sell or transfer title to all or any portion of the land to any private owner for a period of ten years. Any unit of government seeking to transfer or sell lands pursuant to this paragraph shall first allow the Board of Trustees to reacquire such lands for the price at which it sold the lands. The deed to the federal government includes provisions that will allow the Board of Trustees to reacquire the land as provided in this section.
In recognition of objections raised by horse stable owners in the vicinity of the cemetery, the deed requires the DVA to preserve a horse trail located within the expansion lands and to allow public access to the trail. Forestry has also requested that the deed reserve the right for it to cut any timber and receive any revenues derived from the sale of timber on the expansion lands. LAMAC recommendations regarding the DVA not requesting any additional lands for future expansion of the cemetery, and preserving areas of sandhill community when it develops the cemetery, have been included as special provisions in the deed. In the event the DVA fails to meet any of the conditions of the deed, the lands will automatically revert to the Board of Trustees.
Due to legal complications associated with the mineral interest exchange recommended by LAMAC, DSL staff recommends approval of the surplus land designation and conveyance to the federal government, and payment of the price paid by the state to originally acquire the lands ($11,572.57), versus receipt of the state forest mineral interests.
The deed from the federal government for the state forest contains a provision restricting use of the land to public purposes. The United States Department of Agriculture has determined that use of the land for a national cemetery will not violate the deed restriction.
A copy of all petitions and letters of support and opposition received for this application are available for review in the Office of the Attorney General.
A consideration of the status of the local government comprehensive plan was not made for this item. The Department of Environmental Protection has determined that the proposed action is not subject to the local government planning process.
(See Attachment 4, Pages 1-45)