Nassau County and the North Florida Land Trust (NFLT) will host an online public workshop to discuss the county’s land conservation efforts.
Marc Hudson, NFLT’s Director of Strategic Conservation, will lead the webinar on Nassau County’s developing conservation lands acquisition and management program on Tuesday. Through the program the county will look to buy conservation lands on its own or with partners.
Last year the Nassau County Board of County Commissioners voted to place a $30 million bond referendum on the November ballot that would be restricted to conservation land purchases.
“We really have these wonderful natural assets in Nassau County and it's our responsibility to figure out a way to preserve those for future generations. And a referendum, a bond issuance to secure those lands, is the most efficient way to move forward,” said Assistant County Manager Taco Pope.
At the moment, about 7% of Nassau County’s land is preserved while the average for Florida counties is 29%, according to NFLT.
“The goal is to have roughly 29% of the total land area in conservation. The land acquisition program is really the first step in establishing a public program to meet those desired levels of service,” Pope said.
“There's now tremendous growth taking place in Nassau County. And it's good to be able to get ahead of it,” said NFLT President Jim McCarthy. “And that's what this plan does. It gets ahead of that development.”
According to McCarthy, land conservation provides various benefits, like improved water quality and flood protection. It also helps preserve critical wildlife habitat and allows communities to create new parks and trails, thereby improving quality of life.
Tuesday’s webinar is designed to give Nassau County residents the chance to help set the priorities for the county’s proposed conservation land acquisition program.
“Nassau County is committed to conserving environmentally sensitive land and wildlife and to ensuring our wetlands and floodplains remain functional. We know this is important to many of the residents as well. We look forward to hearing from those individuals and working with them to develop this conservation plan to protect our natural habitat areas,” said Daniel B. Leeper, Board of County Commissioners Chairman.
“We want to know what the people want for the environmental future of their county as we prepare for what is ahead,” said Jim McCarthy, president of NFLT. “Part of what we do as a nonprofit land conservation organization is to work with communities to help them find a way to protect their natural spaces. We encourage the public to join us next Tuesday and let us know what you want. This information is vital to us as we move forward to create Nassau County’s conservation plan.”
The webinar is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, May 5.