TAVARES — County Manager Cindy Hall announced during the regularly scheduled meeting of the Lake County Board of County Commissioners on Tuesday that the Florida Communities Trust had recently awarded the County with more than $2.5 million in grants to purchase environmentally sensitive lands. The grants, which require a 55 percent local match, will provide funding for two parcels of land in the Wekiva River Basin that the County is currently considering for purchase.
After successfully acquiring the 192-acre Ferndale Preserve on Lake Apopka last year, Lake County’s public lands acquisition program has been actively searching for additional environmental lands to purchase. After thorough investigation by staff from the Lake County Public Lands Management Division and the Public Land Acquisition Advisory Council, the County submitted grant applications for four potential land acquisition projects.
In all, the Florida Communities Trust, which is under the Florida Department of Community Affairs, announced this week funding for 24 new land acquisition projects, totaling almost $78 million to communities across Florida. When local matching funds are added, more than $136 million will be going to Florida’s communities to provide public recreation and green space. The Florida Communities Trust was created in 1989 to aid local governments in protecting land, waterfront access, natural areas and cultural resources in an effort to enhance Florida’s communities.
The Lake County Public Lands Management Division was created in September 2005 to assist the Public Land Acquisition Advisory Council with preparing and recommending policies to guide the acquisition and management of public lands, both environmental and recreational.
The creation of the Division is a direct result of Lake County voters approving a public land referendum on Nov. 2, 2004. The referendum approved a one-third millage for the County to issue $36 million in bonds for the acquisition and improvement of land to protect drinking water, improve water quality of rivers and lakes, protect open space and provide recreation areas.
Lake County property owners are encouraged to submit land opportunities for possible acquisition. Interested property owners can submit their properties for consideration by filling out an application. To obtain an application, call (352) 343-9648 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.