Conservation

Sean Lahav / UNF's Environmental Center

Updated at 11 a.m. Tuesday

On the wall behind Jim McCarthy’s desk hangs a large photograph of a skeletonized tree trunk resting on the iconic Boneyard Beach at Big Talbot Island State Park.

“That beach is important,” said McCarthy, president of North Florida Land Trust. Since 2012, the nonprofit organization has preserved most of the over 1,000 acres of privately owned land on the island. The project, which protects migratory birds’ layover spots and diamondback terrapins’ dwellings, is largely financed by a private fund.


Leonard J. DeFrancisci / Wikimedia Commons

The Jacksonville City Council is asking for conservation dollars to clean up First Coast waterways.


Peter Haden / WJCT

A lawsuit alleging the Florida Legislature improperly used funds meant for buying conservation land could be expedited.

Circuit Judge Charles Dodson of Tallahassee scheduled a hearing Friday. If Dodson grants a summary judgment motion, conservation groups could get a verdict as soon as the Dec. 5 hearing.


Allie George / WJCT News

On a small beach below the iconic stripes of St. Augustine’s lighthouse, a small crowd gathered in July to cheer on a rehabilitated sea turtle as it was finally returned to the wild.

The Sea Turtle Hospital officially opened its doors at the Whitney Laboratory, just south of St. Augustine, late last year. Since then, it’s served around 100 patients, suffering from injuries ranging from boat strikes to fishing line entanglements.


North Florida Land Trust

The North Florida Land Trust is launching an ambitious project to conserve more land in North Florida.

The nonprofit is planning to create a 112,000 acre "Preservation Portfolio" of land they say is in critical need of preservation. This includes territory in Baker, Clay, Duval, Flagler, Putnam, and St. Johns Counties.

The estimated cost of purchasing the acreage is $216 million.

Jim McCarthy, executive director of the North Florida Land Trust, joins us to discuss the project and how they are raising funds for it.

beach at Big Talbot Island
North Florida Land Trust

The North Florida Land Trust is about to release its annual list of threatened lands that are a priority for purchase.

In this week’s “Business Brief,” analyst John Burr tells WJCT News Director Jessica Palombo the nonprofit is trying a new strategy to attract businesses and governments to invest in environmental conservation.


National Park Service

Jacksonville conservationists are urging Duval County lawmakers to use more Amendment 1 money to buy conservation land around the First Coast.

The pleas at Monday’s Duval Delegation meeting came amidst an ongoing court battle pitting environmentalists against state officials who say the money was spent correctly.

One environmental preservation group says it’s losing projects as a direct result of what it calls a misappropriation of state funds.  


Cyd Hoskinson / WJCT News

A Northeast Florida environmental group wants to know what’s happened to millions of dollars in a trust fund earmarked for planting and maintaining trees in Duval County. Voters approved the trust fund 15 years ago.

The Public Trust Environmental Legal Institute of Florida filed a lawsuit Monday morning seeking an accounting of how that money has been spent.

Public Trust Executive Director Andy Miller says recent figures haven’t added up.

Tree Hill Nature Center

Supporters of Amendment 1 filed a lawsuit Monday claiming state lawmakers in a newly approved budget misappropriated more than $300 million of the money voters wanted for environmental land management and acquisition.

Also, supporters of the ballot initiative want a court to declare exactly what lawmakers can and can't do with the Amendment 1 money.

Lawmakers recently settled on a $77 billion budget this year, but with very little money set aside for the state’s land conservation program. Environmentalists said it’s a perfect example of why a constitutional amendment ensuring funding each year is needed.

Conservationists around Florida are paying close attention to a plan to sell thousands of acres of state property, including beaches, forests and wetlands. The lands were originally acquired to protect them from development. 

Here on the First Coast, parts of Anastasia State Park in St. Johns County and Pumpkin Hill Creek Preserve State Park in Duval County would be included in the proposal.

The State Department of Environmental Protection has released a list of roughly 160 properties that could be sold. 

At a public workshop Wednesday evening in Tallahassee, environmentalists expressed serious doubts about a list of conservation lands the state of Florida proposes to sell. The state is seeking public input as it looks to unload up to $50 million dollars’ worth of land.

Florida Lottery Brings Guy Harvey to First Coast

Jun 7, 2013
Catherine Byerly

The Florida Lottery kicked off a series of scratch off tickets on Friday featuring works by artist and conservationist Guy Harvey.

With the backdrop of the St Johns River behind her, Florida Lottery Secretary Cynthia O’Connell introduced new scratch off tickets featuring twelve unique works by Harvey depicting Florida species.

“It’s a great partnership,” O’Connell said.  “We’ll promote fishing in the fishing capital of the world and Jacksonville is at the head of that leaderboard.”