Northwest Florida Daily News - August 20, 2013, By LAUREN SAGE REINLIE
Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet gave their final stamp of approval Tuesday to the purchase of a nearly 21,000-acre buffer for Eglin Air Force Base at a ceremony in Tallahassee.
The state agreed to purchase the conservation easement for $12.5 million from M.C. Davis earlier this summer. The tract is located in Walton County on the east side of the base.
The land will be set aside for conservation and will not be developed. That will ensure that Eglin’s mission won’t disrupt potential home or business owners in the area, as well as protect endangered species and habitats.
“With the census recognizing Florida as having one of the largest population growths of any state, this 20,800-acre conservation easement will provide a critical buffer from future development for the many Department of Defense missions that Eglin’s test and training range supports,” said Col. Shawn Moore, commander of Eglin’s 96th Civil Engineering Group, who attended Tuesday’s ceremony.
Officials have been pursuing buffer zones around Eglin for years, but the Davis property is the largest single acquisition in some time and the largest yet under the Department of Defense’s Readiness and Environmental Protection Initiative, which began in 2007 to establish buffer zones near bases.
The buffer was purchased through a partnership between the state and federal governments and other agencies.
Florida committed $10.2 million, the federal government chipped in $1.75 million and Eglin is providing $550,000. Davis sold the property at a discount of $7 million, according to officials.
As part of the agreement, Davis and his Nokuse Plantation conservation organization will preserve the property’s longleaf pine ecosystem, which is home to several endangered and threatened species.
“Florida’s conservation land program is one of the most robust in the country, and we can smartly use taxpayer dollars to improve our environment while showing that Florida is the country’s most military-friendly state,” Scott said in a statement released after the ceremony.
To view this article at the source publication, go to http://www.nwfdailynews.com/military/top-story/gov-scott-signs-off-to-buy-land-for-eglin-buffer-1.190138.
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