News / Events
Panel appointed to oversee management plan for Farmton conservation land
DINAH VOYLES PULVER, ENVIRONMENT WRITER
July 8, 2011
DELAND -- A panel of experts from across Florida was appointed Thursday by the Volusia County Council to oversee writing a management plan for proposed conservation lands owned by the Miami Corp. in southern Volusia.
Collectively, the 12-member task force represents more than 150 years of experience in conservation and land management in Florida.
"This task force is a phenomenal group of people," said Jamie Seaman, a deputy county attorney.
The company has received permission to change land use plans on the 59,000 acres it owns in Volusia and Brevard counties to allow the eventual construction of up to 25,000 homes and 4 million square feet of commercial space on 19,000 acres while placing conservation easements over an estimated 40,000 acres.
The company's agreement with Volusia County, called the Farmton Local Plan, requires a plan to guide what happens with those lands as they are placed into conservation. The plan must address 21 individual areas, including identifying environmentally sensitive areas and endangered species, protecting those areas and species, removing or controlling exotic species and spelling out the best management practices for any commercial timber farming and harvesting that takes place.
At least two council members, Pat Northey and Carl Persis, said Thursday they want to make sure the county has built-in safeguards to hold the company to promises made during the land use change process.
"The public is trusting us to ensure that property is protected forever," Persis said after the meeting.
The panel will conduct public meetings as it works over the next year.
Local panelists will include Alan Alshouse, a DeLand resident who is a senior scientist with Atkins, a major environmental and engineering consulting firm; Stephen Kintner, retired director of environmental management for Volusia County; Mike Kuypers, chief of the Florida Forest Service district that includes Volusia and Flagler counties; and Mike Brown, the property manager for the Miami Corp. land, called the Farmton Tree Farm.
Also serving on the panel are Pierce Jones, director of the University of Florida's Program for Resource Efficient Communities; Preston Robertson, vice president and general counsel for the Florida Wildlife Federation; George Tanner, retired University of Florida professor who serves on the board for Babcock Ranch; Vickie Larson, a biological consultant from Brevard County who serves on the state's Acquisition and Restoration Council; Adele Mills, an employee of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection; and Mark Asleson, a biologist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Two other men will represent groups that are expected to jointly hold the company's conservation easements jointly with Volusia County: Robert Christianson, director of operations and land resources for the St. Johns River Water Management District, and Charles Lee, director of advocacy for Audubon of Florida.