(1) SHORT TITLE.-This section may be cited as the “Florida Preservation 2000 Act.”
(2) LEGISLATIVE FINDINGS.-The Legislature finds and declares that:
(a) The alteration and development of Florida’s natural areas to accommodate its rapidly growing population have contributed to the degradation of water resources, the fragmentation and destruction of wildlife habitats, the loss of recreation space, and the diminishment of wetlands and forests.
(b) Imminent development of Florida’s remaining natural areas and continuing increases in land values necessitate an aggressive program of public land acquisition during the next decade to preserve the quality of life that attracts so many people to Florida.
(c) Acquisition of public lands, in fee simple or in any lesser interest, should be based on a comprehensive assessment of Florida’s natural resources and planned so as to protect the integrity of ecological systems and to provide multiple benefits, including preservation of fish and wildlife habitat, recreation space, and water recharge areas. Governmental agencies responsible for public land acquisition should work together to purchase lands jointly and to coordinate individual purchases within ecological systems.
(d) One of the purposes of the Florida Communities Trust program is to acquire, protect, and preserve open space and recreation properties within urban areas where pristine animal and plant communities no longer exist. These areas are often overlooked in other programs because of their smaller size and proximity to developed property. These smaller parcels are, however, critically important to the quality of life in these urban areas for the residents who live there as well as to the many visitors to the state. The trust shall consider projects submitted by local governments which further the goals, objectives, and policies of the conservation, recreation and open space, or coastal elements of their local comprehensive plans or which serve to conserve natural resources or resolve land use conflicts.
(e) South Florida’s water supply and unique natural environment depend on the protection of lands buffering the East Everglades and the Everglades water conservation areas.
In addition, the Legislature recognizes the conflicting desires of the citizens of this state to prosper through economic development and to preserve the natural areas of Florida that development threatens to claim. The Legislature further recognizes the urgency of acquiring natural areas in the state for preservation, yet acknowledges the difficulty of ensuring adequate funding for accelerated acquisition in light of other equally critical financial needs of the state. It is the Legislature’s desire and intent to fund the implementation of the Florida Preservation 2000 Act for each of the 10 years of the program’s duration and to do so in a fiscally responsible manner.
(3) LAND ACQUISITION PROGRAMS SUPPLEMENTED.-Less the costs of issuance, the costs of funding reserve accounts, and other costs with respect to the bonds, the proceeds of bonds issued pursuant to this act shall be deposited into the Florida Preservation 2000 Trust Fund created by s. 375.045. In fiscal year 2000-2001, for each Florida Preservation 2000 program described in paragraphs (a)-(g), that portion of each program’s total remaining cash balance which, as of June 30, 2000, is in excess of that program’s total remaining appropriation balances shall be redistributed by the department and deposited into the Save Our Everglades Trust Fund for land acquisition. For purposes of calculating the total remaining cash balances for this redistribution, the Florida Preservation 2000 Series 2000 bond proceeds, including interest thereon, and the fiscal year 1999-2000 General Appropriations Act amounts shall be deducted from the remaining cash and appropriation balances, respectively. The remaining proceeds shall be distributed by the Department of Environmental Protection in the following manner:
(a) Fifty percent to the Department of Environmental Protection for the purchase of public lands as described in s. 259.032. Of this 50 percent, at least one-fifth shall be used for the acquisition of coastal lands.
(b) Thirty percent to the Department of Environmental Protection for the purchase of water management lands pursuant to s. 373.59, to be distributed among the water management districts as provided in that section. Funds received by each district may also be used for acquisition of lands necessary to implement surface water improvement and management plans or for acquisition of lands necessary to implement the Everglades Construction Project authorized by s. 373.4592.
(c) Ten percent to the Department of Environmental Protection to provide land acquisition grants and loans to local governments through the Florida Communities Trust pursuant to part III of chapter 380. From funds allocated to the trust, $3 million annually shall be used by the Division of State Lands within the Department of Environmental Protection to implement the Green Swamp Land Protection Initiative specifically for the purchase of conservation easements, as defined in s. 380.0677(3), of lands, or severable interests or rights in lands, in the Green Swamp Area of Critical State Concern. From funds allocated to the trust, $3 million annually shall be used by the Monroe County Comprehensive Plan Land Authority specifically for the purchase of a real property interest in those lands subject to the Rate of Growth Ordinances adopted by local governments in Monroe County or those lands within the boundary of an approved Conservation and Recreation Lands project located within the Florida Keys or Key West Areas of Critical State Concern; however, title to lands acquired within the boundary of an approved Conservation and Recreation Lands project may, in accordance with an approved joint acquisition agreement, vest in the Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund. Of the remaining funds, one-half shall be matched by local governments on a dollar-for-dollar basis. To the extent allowed by federal requirements for the use of bond proceeds, the trust shall expend Preservation 2000 funds to carry out the purposes of part III of chapter 380.
(d) Two and nine-tenths percent to the Department of Environmental Protection for the purchase of inholdings and additions to state parks. For the purposes of this paragraph, “state park” means all real property in the state under the jurisdiction of the Division of Recreation and Parks of the department, or which may come under its jurisdiction.
(e) Two and nine-tenths percent to the Florida Forest Service of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to fund the acquisition of state forest inholdings and additions pursuant to s. 589.07.
(f) Two and nine-tenths percent to the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to fund the acquisition of inholdings and additions to lands managed by the commission which are important to the conservation of fish and wildlife.
(g) One and three-tenths percent to the Department of Environmental Protection for the Florida Greenways and Trails Program, to acquire greenways and trails or greenways and trails systems pursuant to chapter 260, including, but not limited to, abandoned railroad rights-of-way and the Florida National Scenic Trail.
Local governments may use federal grants or loans, private donations, or environmental mitigation funds, including environmental mitigation funds required pursuant to s. 338.250, for any part or all of any local match required for the purposes described in this subsection. Bond proceeds allocated pursuant to paragraph (c) may be used to purchase lands on the priority lists developed pursuant to s. 259.035. Title to lands purchased pursuant to paragraphs (a), (d), (e), (f), and (g) shall be vested in the Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund. Title to lands purchased pursuant to paragraph (c) may be vested in the Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund. The board of trustees shall hold title to land protection agreements and conservation easements that were or will be acquired pursuant to s. 380.0677, and the Southwest Florida Water Management District and the St. Johns River Water Management District shall monitor such agreements and easements within their respective districts until the state assumes this responsibility.
(4) PROJECT CRITERIA.-
(a) Proceeds of bonds issued pursuant to this act and distributed pursuant to paragraphs (3)(a) and (b) shall be spent only on projects which meet at least one of the following criteria, as determined pursuant to paragraphs (b) and (c):
1. A significant portion of the land in the project is in imminent danger of development, in imminent danger of loss of its significant natural attributes, or in imminent danger of subdivision which will result in multiple ownership and may make acquisition of the project more costly or less likely to be accomplished;
2. Compelling evidence exists that the land is likely to be developed during the next 12 months, or appraisals made during the past 5 years indicate an escalation in land value at an average rate that exceeds the average rate of interest likely to be paid on the bonds;
3. A significant portion of the land in the project serves to protect or recharge groundwater and to protect other valuable natural resources or provide space for natural resource based recreation;
4. The project can be purchased at 80 percent of appraised value or less;
5. A significant portion of the land in the project serves as habitat for endangered, threatened, or rare species or serves to protect natural communities which are listed by the Florida Natural Areas Inventory as critically imperiled, imperiled, or rare, or as excellent quality occurrences of natural communities; or
6. A significant portion of the land serves to preserve important archaeological or historical sites.
(b) Each year that bonds are to be issued pursuant to this act, the Land Acquisition and Management Advisory Council shall review that year’s approved Conservation and Recreation Lands priority list and shall, by the first board meeting in February, present to the Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund for approval a listing of projects on the list which meet one or more of the criteria listed in paragraph (a). The board may remove projects from the list developed pursuant to this paragraph, but may not add projects.
(c) Each year that bonds are to be issued pursuant to this act, each water management district governing board shall review the lands on its current year’s Save Our Rivers 5-year plan and shall, by January 15, adopt a listing of projects from the plan which meet one or more of the criteria listed in paragraph (a).
(d) In the acquisition of coastal lands pursuant to paragraph (3)(a), the following additional criteria shall also be considered:
1. The value of acquiring coastal high-hazard parcels, consistent with hazard mitigation and postdisaster redevelopment policies, in order to minimize the risk to life and property and to reduce the need for future disaster assistance.
2. The value of acquiring beachfront parcels, irrespective of size, to provide public access and recreational opportunities in highly developed urban areas.
3. The value of acquiring identified parcels the development of which would adversely affect coastal resources.
When a nonprofit environmental organization which is tax-exempt pursuant to s. 501(c)(3) of the United States Internal Revenue Code sells land to the state, such land at the time of such sale shall be deemed to meet one or more of the criteria listed in paragraph (a) if such land meets one or more of the criteria at the time the organization purchases it. Listings of projects compiled pursuant to paragraphs (b) and (c) may be revised to include projects on the Conservation and Recreation Lands priority list or in a water management district’s 5-year plan which come under the criteria in paragraph (a) after the dates specified in paragraph (b) or paragraph (c). The requirement of paragraph (3)(a) regarding coastal lands is met as long as an average of one-fifth of the cumulative proceeds allocated through fiscal year 1999-2000 pursuant to that paragraph is used to purchase coastal lands.
(e) The Legislature finds that the Florida Preservation 2000 Program has provided financial resources that have enabled the acquisition of significant amounts of land for public ownership in the first 7 years of the program’s existence. In the remaining years of the Florida Preservation 2000 Program, agencies that receive funds are encouraged to better coordinate their expenditures so that future acquisitions, when combined with previous acquisitions, will form more complete patterns of protection for natural areas and functioning ecosystems to better accomplish the intent of paragraph (2)(c).
(f) The Legislature intends that, in the remaining years of the Florida Preservation 2000 Program, emphasis be given to the completion of projects in which one or more parcels have already been acquired and to the acquisition of lands containing ecological resources which are either not represented or underrepresented on lands currently in public ownership. The Legislature also intends that future acquisitions under the Florida Preservation 2000 Program be limited to projects on the current project lists, or any additions to the list as determined and prioritized by the study, or those projects that can reasonably be expected to be acquired by the end of the Florida Preservation 2000 Program.
(5) Any funds received by the Florida Forest Service from the Preservation 2000 Trust Fund pursuant to paragraph (3)(e) shall be used only to pay the cost of the acquisition of lands in furtherance of outdoor recreation and natural resources conservation in this state. The administration and use of any funds received by the Florida Forest Service from the Preservation 2000 Trust Fund will be subject to such terms and conditions imposed thereon by the agency of the state responsible for the issuance of the revenue bonds, the proceeds of which are deposited in the Preservation 2000 Trust Fund, including restrictions imposed to ensure that the interest on any such revenue bonds issued by the state as tax-exempt revenue bonds will not be included in the gross income of the holders of such bonds for federal income tax purposes. All deeds or leases with respect to any real property acquired with funds received by the Florida Forest Service from the Preservation 2000 Trust Fund shall contain such covenants and restrictions as are sufficient to ensure that the use of such real property at all times complies with s. 375.051 and s. 9, Art. XII of the 1968 Constitution of Florida; and shall contain reverter clauses providing for the reversion of title to such property to the Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund or, in the case of a lease of such property, providing for termination of the lease upon a failure to use the property conveyed thereby for such purposes.
(6) DISPOSITION OF LANDS.-
(a) Any lands acquired pursuant to paragraph (3)(a), paragraph (3)(c), paragraph (3)(d), paragraph (3)(e), paragraph (3)(f), or paragraph (3)(g), if title to such lands is vested in the Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund, may be disposed of by the Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund in accordance with the provisions and procedures set forth in s. 253.034(6), and lands acquired pursuant to paragraph (3)(b) may be disposed of by the owning water management district in accordance with the procedures and provisions set forth in ss. 373.056 and 373.089 provided such disposition also shall satisfy the requirements of paragraphs (b) and (c).
(b) Before land may be surplused as required by s. 253.034(6), or determined to be no longer required for its purposes under s. 373.056(4), whichever may be applicable, there shall first be a determination by the Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund, or, in the case of water management district lands, by the owning water management district, that such land no longer needs to be preserved in furtherance of the intent of the Florida Preservation 2000 Act. Any lands eligible to be disposed of under this procedure also may be used to acquire other lands through an exchange of lands, provided such lands obtained in an exchange are described in the same paragraph of subsection (3) as the lands disposed.
(c) Notwithstanding paragraphs (a) and (b), no such disposition of land shall be made if such disposition would have the effect of causing all or any portion of the interest on any revenue bonds issued to fund the Florida Preservation 2000 Act to lose their exclusion from gross income for purposes of federal income taxation. Any revenue derived from the disposal of such lands may not be used for any purpose except for deposit into the Florida Preservation 2000 Trust Fund, or the Florida Forever Trust Fund within the Department of Environmental Protection, for recredit to the share held under subsection (3), in which such disposed land is described.
(7) ALTERNATE USES OF ACQUIRED LANDS.-
(a) The Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund, or, in the case of water management district lands, the owning water management district, may authorize the granting of a lease, easement, or license for the use of any lands acquired pursuant to subsection (3), for any governmental use permitted by s. 17, Art. IX of the State Constitution of 1885, as adopted by s. 9(a), Art. XII of the State Constitution, and any other incidental public or private use that is determined by the board or the owning water management district to be compatible with the purposes for which such lands were acquired.
(b) Any existing lease, easement, or license acquired for incidental public or private use on, under, or across any lands acquired pursuant to subsection (3) shall be presumed not to be incompatible with the purposes for which such lands were acquired.
(c) Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph (a), no such lease, easement, or license shall be entered into by the Department of Environmental Protection or other appropriate state agency if the granting of such lease, easement, or license would adversely affect the exclusion of the interest on any revenue bonds issued to fund the acquisition of the affected lands from gross income for federal income tax purposes, as described in s. 375.045(4).
(8)(a) The Legislature finds that, with the increasing pressures on the natural areas of this state, the state must develop creative techniques to maximize the use of acquisition and management moneys. The Legislature also finds that the state’s environmental land-buying agencies should be encouraged to augment their traditional, fee simple acquisition programs with the use of alternatives to fee simple acquisition techniques. The Legislature also finds that using alternatives to fee simple acquisition by public land-buying agencies will achieve the following public policy goals:
1. Allow more lands to be brought under public protection for preservation, conservation, and recreational purposes at less expense using public funds.
2. Retain, on local government tax rolls, some portion of or interest in lands which are under public protection.
3. Reduce long-term management costs by allowing private property owners to continue acting as stewards of the land, where appropriate.
Therefore, it is the intent of the Legislature that public land-buying agencies develop programs to pursue alternatives to fee simple acquisition and to educate private landowners about such alternatives and the benefits of such alternatives. It also is the intent of the Legislature that the department and the water management districts spend a portion of their shares of Preservation 2000 bond proceeds to purchase eligible properties using alternatives to fee simple acquisition. Finally, it is the intent of the Legislature that public agencies acquire lands in fee simple for public access and recreational activities. Lands protected using alternatives to fee simple acquisition techniques shall not be accessible to the public unless such access is negotiated with and agreed to by the private landowners who retain interests in such lands.
(b) The Land Acquisition Advisory Council and the water management districts shall identify, within their 1997 acquisition plans, those projects which require a full fee simple interest to achieve the public policy goals, along with the reasons why full title is determined to be necessary. The council and the water management districts may use alternatives to fee simple acquisition to bring the remaining projects in their acquisition plans under public protection. For the purposes of this subsection, the term “alternatives to fee simple acquisition” includes, but is not limited to: purchase of development rights; conservation easements; flowage easements; purchase of timber rights, mineral rights, or hunting rights; purchase of agricultural interests or silvicultural interests; land protection agreements; fee simple acquisitions with reservations; or any other acquisition technique which achieves the public policy goals listed in paragraph (a). It is presumed that a private landowner retains the full range of uses for all the rights or interests in the landowner’s land which are not specifically acquired by the public agency. Life estates and fee simple acquisitions with leaseback provisions shall not qualify as an alternative to fee simple acquisition under this subsection, although the department and the districts are encouraged to use such techniques where appropriate.
(c) The department and each water management district shall implement initiatives to use alternatives to fee simple acquisition and to educate private landowners about such alternatives. These initiatives shall include at least two acquisitions a year by the department and each water management district utilizing alternatives to fee simple.
(d) The Legislature finds that the lack of direct sales comparison information has served as an impediment to successful implementation of alternatives to fee simple acquisition. It is the intent of the Legislature that, in the absence of direct comparable sales information, appraisals of alternatives to fee simple acquisitions be based on the difference between the full fee simple valuation and the value of the interests remaining with the seller after acquisition.
(e) The public agency which has been assigned management responsibility shall inspect and monitor any less-than-fee-simple interest according to the terms of the purchase agreement relating to such interest.
(f) The department and the water management districts may enter into joint acquisition agreements to jointly fund the purchase of lands using alternatives to fee simple techniques.