Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Deal Puts Wetlands Section off Limits Bush, Cabinet Shield 7,900 Acres in Swamp

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Deal Puts Wetlands Section off Limits Bush, Cabinet Shield 7,900 Acres in Swamp

Article excerpt

Byline: Jim Saunders, Times-Union staff writer

TALLAHASSEE -- Gov. Jeb Bush and the Florida Cabinet had reservations last year when they approved a $20.1 million deal to buy a huge swath of environmentally sensitive land in northern St. Johns County.

To get the nearly 22,000 acres, the state had to accept a lease that allowed a timber company to cut trees from the land -- including crucial wetlands -- for another 25 years.

But yesterday, after another round of dealmaking, Bush and the Cabinet ensured that at least part of the area known as Twelve Mile Swamp will remain untouched.

Bush and Cabinet members approved a plan that will pay $4.6 million to the timber company, Rayonier Woodlands LLC, to prevent it from cutting trees on about 7,900 acres of the land. Supporters say the deal will protect wetlands that bolster the region's water supply, feed nearby creeks and serve as a home to wildlife.

"It's a matter of protecting what we have today for today," said Robert Christianson, a St. Johns River Water Management District official who helped negotiate the deal.

The deal, however, will continue to allow Rayonier Woodlands to cut timber on much of the property, including in some wetlands. Also, it will prevent public access to almost all of the land until the lease expires in 2025.

Bush, the Cabinet and the water management district agreed to buy the land last year, at least in part, to protect it from development that has enveloped northern St. Johns County in recent years.

Thousands of homes are being built or planned in developments near Twelve Mile Swamp, which is roughly bordered by Interstate 95 on the west, County Road 210 on the north, U.S. 1 on the east and Florida 16 on the south. Those developments include the Saint Johns community to the west and the Nocatee community to the north.

State and water management district officials, who have split the cost of the deals, had sought for years to buy Twelve Mile Swamp. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.