Wednesday, May 23, 2018
News Roundup

If the state wants to acquire natural land, it can tap into a real surplus

The Withlacoochee State Trail almost perfectly fits its common description as a "linear state park."

It is long, straight and very narrow — at least until the very southern end, near Trilby, where a 1.7-acre parcel is attached like a feather on an arrow.

Walk the trail past this property and you see a house, a fringe of woods and a small chunk of pasture.

If the state goes through with its plan to unload this lot as part of a program to "surplus" $50 million worth of natural land, it might bring another house or two, maybe a few horses — nothing that would interfere with the experience of walking or riding on the 46-mile-long trail.

So, does the marginal environmental value of this parcel — the only candidate for surplusing in Hernando or Pasco counties — mean that the entire program is acceptable?

No, it doesn't mean that at all. In fact, this is very clearly a bad idea.

Not necessarily for Tallahassee politicians, who get to offer conservative voters tangible proof of shrinking government, while appealing to conservation-minded residents with the promise that the proceeds will be spent on acquiring other environmentally sensitive land.

And selling off these parcels wouldn't be such a bad idea on a small scale.

The Trilby lot is proof that there are a few properties that have more value on the market than as habitat or recreational land.

The problem is, there's not $50 million worth of land that fits this description. Not even close to that amount. Probably not even half that amount.

We know that because there are now a total of 4,000 acres on the list of possible surplus properties, and 2,600 of these acres are in the Hilochee Wildlife Management Area in the Green Swamp in Polk County.

All in all, it's difficult to image that the state could find a more worthy chunk of environmental property to buy with the money raised from selling this one.

It provides recreation opportunities, pure water for the aquifer and the four rivers that flow out of the Green Swamp, prime wildlife habitat and an underpass that allows wildlife to cross Interstate 4, with plans to build more crossings.

"There is absolutely no justification for surplusing" this land, said Marian Ryan, the Sierra Club's Florida conservation chairwoman.

Actually, there is a justification; it just has nothing to do with environmental protection. This land has plenty frontage on I-4 and is near the U.S. 27 commercial corridor.

It's the kind of property you need to reach that dream sum of $50 million.

But the state doesn't have to pursue that dream so recklessly. Economists are projecting that in fiscal year 2014, state revenues will exceed expenses by $845 million.

Gov. Rick Scott says he wants to give most of this money back to taxpayers.

But if he or anyone else in Tallahassee has a true interest in protecting natural Florida, that's the real surplus.

Comments
Lightning-Capitals: Grading Tampa Bay’s 4-0 loss in Game 7

Lightning-Capitals: Grading Tampa Bay’s 4-0 loss in Game 7

TAMPA — Forget Vegas.The Lightning have left the building.No more season. No more watch parties. No more anything.There is no way around it. Jon Cooper's team couldn't finish, not in Game 7 at home, not in the Eastern Conference final...
Updated: 10 minutes ago
Coast Guard suspends search for man missing from Tampa cruise

Coast Guard suspends search for man missing from Tampa cruise

The Coast Guard announced Wednesday night that it has suspended the search for a man who was reported to have gone overboard from a cruise ship that left Tampa.Officials aboard the Carnival Paradise told the Coast Guard on Tuesday morning that Brian ...
Updated: 11 minutes ago
Lightning’s season ends one win short of Stanley Cup final with 4-0 loss to Capitals

Lightning’s season ends one win short of Stanley Cup final with 4-0 loss to Capitals

TAMPA – The Lightning's dream season ended late Wednesday night with the final horn or, if you prefer, much earlier when Alex Ovechkin blasted the puck past Andrei Vasilevskiy just 62 seconds into the game.It ended one win shy of a trip to the ...
Updated: 12 minutes ago
Live blog: Lightning's season ends with 4-0 loss in Game 7

Live blog: Lightning's season ends with 4-0 loss in Game 7

  Follow our live coverage of the Eastern Conference final between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Washington Capitals. We'll have updates, analysis, photos, video and more on and off the ice from Times reporters, editors, sports columnists and photo j...
Updated: 27 minutes ago
Lightning-Capitals: Roger Mooney’s takeaways from the Lightning’s 4-0 loss in Game 7

Lightning-Capitals: Roger Mooney’s takeaways from the Lightning’s 4-0 loss in Game 7

* The Lightning picked the worst time to stop scoring goals. It's tough to win when you go more than six periods without getting at least one past the goalie, but that is what happened to the NHL's top-scoring team during the regular season.* Certain...
Updated: 1 hour ago
State baseball: 60 wins and counting for Calvary Christian

State baseball: 60 wins and counting for Calvary Christian

FORT MYERS — Calvary Christian will play for its second straight Class 4A state championship Thursday. The Warriors defeated Jacksonville Trinity Christian 2-1 on Wednesday night at Hammond Stadium in a game delayed three hours due to weather. It is ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Wednesday’s Rays-Red Sox game

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Wednesday’s Rays-Red Sox game

In a way, the timing of RHP Jake Faria's oblique injury seemed manageable in that RHP Nathan Eovaldi is close to coming off the disabled list and can step in. But on the other hand, the Rays finally could have four regular starters. Imagine that.Ther...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Three arrested for street racing after mother fatally struck pushing stroller on Bayshore Boulevard

Three arrested for street racing after mother fatally struck pushing stroller on Bayshore Boulevard

TAMPA — The two cars raced each other along Bayshore Boulevard just before noon, witnesses told police. One was a black 2018 Mustang. The other a gold Nissan. They sped side-by-side, trading the lead, police said, despite the traffic and pedestrians ...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Region baseball: Venice dispatches Mitchell

NEW PORT RICHEY — Walking by the football field and toward the parking lot after Wednesday's Class 7A region final at Ridgewood High, several Venice High players were caught by surprise as the irrigation system turned on.But while shaking off t...
Updated: 2 hours ago
‘C’mon Tampa, let’s go!’ Lightning fans gather for Game 7

‘C’mon Tampa, let’s go!’ Lightning fans gather for Game 7

TAMPA — Hours before Gate C opened Wednesday at Amalie Arena, six die-hard Tampa Bay Lightning fans gathered on the steps.Waiting.For Thomas Schooley, 40, of Seminole, it’s a pregame tradition with meaning."I’ve got to be the first one in," Schooley ...
Updated: 2 hours ago