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.
(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.
(3) TITLE TO CERTAIN PROPERTY ACQUIRED WITH PRESERVATION 2000 BONDS.–Title to lands purchased pursuant to former paragraphs (a), (d), (e), (f), or (g) of this subsection, Florida Statutes 2014, shall be vested in the Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund. Title to lands purchased pursuant to former paragraph (c) of this subsection, Florida Statutes 2014, 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 acquired pursuant to former s. 380.0677, Florida Statutes 2014, 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) FLORIDA FOREST SERVICE FUND USE.–All deeds or leases with respect to any real property acquired with Preservation 2000 funds received by the Florida Forest Service must contain sufficient covenants and restrictions to ensure that the use of such real property complies with s. 375.051 and s. 9, Art. XII of the 1968 Constitution of Florida and 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.
(5) DISPOSITION OF LANDS.–
(a) Any lands acquired pursuant to former paragraphs (3)(a), (3)(c), (3)(d), (3)(e), (3)(f), or (3)(g) of this section, Florida Statutes 2014, if title to such lands is vested in the board, may be disposed of by the board in accordance with the provisions and procedures set forth in s. 253.0341, and lands acquired pursuant to former paragraph (3)(b) of this section, Florida Statutes 2014, 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 acquired with Preservation 2000 funds may be surplused as required by s. 253.0341 or determined to be no longer required for its purposes under s. 373.056(4), as applicable, there shall first be a determination by the board, 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 if such lands obtained in an exchange are described in the same paragraph of former subsection (3) of this section, Florida Statutes 2014, as the lands disposed.
(c) Revenue derived from the disposal of lands acquired with Preservation 2000 funds may not be used for any purpose except for deposit into the Florida Forever Trust Fund within the department, for recredit to the share held under former subsection (3) of this section, Florida Statutes 2014, in which such disposed land is described.
(6) ALTERNATE USES OF ACQUIRED LANDS.–
(a) The board, 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 former subsection (3) of this section, Florida Statutes 2014, 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 conservation, preservation, or recreation purposes.
(b) Any existing lease, easement, or license acquired for incidental public or private use on, under, or across any lands acquired pursuant to former subsection (3) of this section, Florida Statutes 2014, shall be presumed not to be incompatible with the purposes for which such lands were acquired.
(7) PUBLIC RECREATIONAL USE.–An agency or water management district that acquired lands using Preservation 2000 funds distributed pursuant to former subsection (3) of this section, Florida Statutes 2014, shall manage such lands to make them available for public recreational use if the recreational use does not interfere with the protection of natural resource values. The agency or district may enter into an agreement with the department or another appropriate state agency to transfer management authority or lease to such agencies’ lands purchased with Preservation 2000 funds for the purpose of managing the lands to make them available for public recreational use. The water management districts and the department shall take action to control the growth of nonnative invasive plant species on lands they manage which were purchased with Preservation 2000 funds.