Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Florida Cabinet next week could approve spending more than $141 million to conserve 42,000 acres of land from the Panhandle to the Devil’s Garden area southwest of Lake Okeechobee.
During a telephone meeting Monday, DeSantis and the Cabinet will consider three land purchases through the Florida Florida program, including a deal with one of the largest citrus growers in the nation. Also, DeSantis, Attorney General Ashley Moody, Agriculture Commissioner Wilton Simpson and state Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis will consider purchasing three conservation easements to help preserve land from development.
The most-expensive deal would use $77.6 million in Florida Forever money to acquire 17,229 acres from Alico, Inc. in Hendry County as part of what is known as the Devil’s Garden Florida Forever project. While Alico is a huge citrus grower, the targeted land is used primarily for cattle grazing, according to a staff analysis of the proposal.
The Devil’s Garden project includes 82,995 acres in Hendry and Collier counties, with the staff analysis saying, in part, that the Big Cypress National Preserve depends on water supplied from the area. Nearly 52,000 acres have already been acquired or are under purchase agreements.
DeSantis and the Cabinet also will consider spending $26.65 million for a conservation easement on 8,881 acres owned by Adams Ranch along the south shore of Lake Marian in Osceola County. Conservation easements typically restrict future development while allowing landowners to continue using land for such things as agriculture.
Source : WLRN