The fight to save Southwest Florida conservation areas
Photo: Video by fox4now.com
CREATED Oct. 4, 2013
FORT MYERS, Fla. - Paving paradise?
That's what dozens of concerned Southwest Florida residents believe will happen if they don't stop a plan by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.
The DEP is planning to sell some conservation areas and held a public meeting in Fort Myers to address the concerns of residents.
The process is still far from over.
Many at the meeting opposed the plan that would sell portions of protected land that is believed to be no longer needed for conservation. The DEP would then use that money to buy more critical pieces of land in the state that need protecting.
Land identified for a possible sale in Southwest Florida include portions of Cayo Costa, Charlotte Harbor Preserve State Park and the Babcock-Webb Wildlife Management Area.
"I live on Pine Island and Cayo Costa is our beach," exclaimed one resident.
A representative with the DEP says there are several misconceptions the public has with the plan. The DEP is not selling off entire parks or forests but isolated parcels.
The land considered makes up 0.12% of the entire conserved land in the state. Any land is too much for some.
"sot from guy"
When the DEP decides what pieces will be offered for sale, they will first be up for grabs by certain state agencies, then colleges and universities and finally local governments. If there are no takers the land would then be offered to the public.
"We all feel betrayed," said one woman who has lived on Cayo Costa for more than 30 years.
She pleaded to keep the place she says is a role model for preservation.
The list has now been narrowed to 78 potential sites around Florida.
Input fromnight's meeting and a few others held across the state will now help decide which lands stay and which ones go.