Adam Putnam: Patchwork of State Land Management Isn't Working
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Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam says the state should consider consolidating the management of its 5.4 million acres of public lands both online and in the bureaucratic realm.
During the state Cabinet meeting Tuesday, Putnam said because large portions of public land that are within a single ecosystem -- many offering similar public amenities -- fall under multijurisdictions, greater efficiency could be obtained by putting all the sites onto a single website for the public.
“Everyone is kind of doing their own thing and if you’re coming to Florida you don’t know to search for state parks versus state forests versus water management,” Putnam said.
“There ought to be a common site where anybody looking to recreate will be able to find all public lands.”
He added, acknowledging the idea “is out there,” to consolidate the management of the different ecosystems -- which have been doled out to different jurisdictions over time as the land was purchased -- under a single agency.
“That patchwork [that] has been put together over the past number of decades really represents a bureaucratic structure and not a public approachability concept structure,” Putnam said.
“The same taxpayers pay for the same land, but it’s being management and co-located.”
As an example, he pointed to the Green Swamp area in Central Florida that has multiple managers, including the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the Florida Park Service, the Florida Forest Service and the Southwest Florida Water Management District.
Putnam’s call comes as a coalition of environmental groups is collecting signatures across Florida seeking a state constitutional amendment to set aside $500 million a year for 20 years from real estate sales for the purchase and management of land for conservation.
Eric Draper, executive director of Audubon of Florida, has said the environmental groups were “left with no options" since state legislators have cut money for land-buying from $300 million a year, and in the 2012 session earmarked only $8.5 million for Florida Forever and prohibited state officials from buying new land.
Putnam said after the Cabinet meeting his comments were focused strictly upon management of existing lands.
Reach Jim Turner at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (772) 215-9889.