Southeast Volusia Audubon Society, P.O. Box 46, New Smyrna Beach, FL 32170;

February 2013 Prez Sez

Two things caught my interest recently:  The first is the continued push by Space Florida to obtain land for a commercial spaceport near the intersection State Rd 3 and U.S. 1, and the other is the South Florida Water Management District's decision to assess its land holdings with the expectation of potentially selling some of them off.

One would think that the less than enthusiastic reception of the plan to get NASA to let loose of 150 acres of land near U.S. 1 and SR3 would have slowed them down but a Jan 20th article by Dinah Voyles-Pulver in the Daytona News-Journal dispels that theory.  Not only are outdoor enthusiasts and environmentalists not happy about it, but neither is NASA.  Though the state and Space Florida consider the land excess to NASA'S needs, NASA does not consider it excess.  According to the agency, the land is still needed as a buffer between their operations and the community and as a possible site for future operations.  Even so, Space Florida expects to kick off the formal environmental and engineering assessment sometime in the next couple of months.  They are also seeking proposals from companies interested in developing a commercial spaceport there.

You will recall last year that the St John's River Water Management District conducted a process of assessing some of it's land holdings to determine whether or not some may be excess to their needs in that they no longer contributed tot he conservation priorities for which they were purchased.  That was an open process whereby the potentially excess lands were identified in advance, there were many public meetings and though the planners did not seem to take into account the comments of the citizenry, when they briefed the WMD board, the board did note the concerns and made appropriate changes to the plan.

By contrast, the South Florida Water Management District is about to do its assessment, but they are not telling anyone what lands they are considering.  They are just asking for public comment.  Audubon Florida speculates that the SFWMD hopes no one will comment on certain parcels and therefore it will be an indication that people don't care about them and may be at greater risk for disposal.

We need to flood these people with comments indicating that all of the lands are necessary for flood control, water supply, water quality and natural resource protection.  These constitute the core mission of the WMD.

I urge you to go to the Audubon Florida website and get the full details and follow the instructions to comment on the SFWMD's website.  The deadline if COB 18 February, 2013.