Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet are expected next month to consider whether to spend nearly $11 million to help limit future development on four ranches and farms in four counties. The proposals would add 8,388 acres to the Rural and Family Lands Protection Program, which through the use of “conservation easements” restricts future development but allows owners to continue using land for such things as agricultural operations.
Scott and the Cabinet had been expected to take up the proposals during a meeting next week, but the meeting was canceled because Scott plans to attend the funeral of Highlands County Deputy William Gentry, who was shot to death while on duty.
McKinley Lewis, a spokesman for Scott, said the agenda for the scheduled Tuesday meeting would be rolled to a June 13 meeting.
The proposals are a 4,476-acre project in Highlands County known as Goolsby Ranch, with a cost of $7.63 million; a 929-acre project in Manatee County known as Howze Ranch, with a cost of $1.5 million; a 1,400-acre project in Madison County known as Sampala Lake Ranch, with a cost of $1.26 million; and a 1,583-acre project in Putnam County known as Rodman Plantation, with a cost of $540,000.
State staff members have recommended approval of all four projects. The Rural and Family Lands Protection Program, a priority of Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, has been used 41 times to secure 42,276 acres across the state.