Land is a key component in most efforts to restore and/or healthfully manage ecosystems from central Florida to the Florida Keys. Restoration efforts where land plays an essential role include the Kissimmee River, Lake Okeechobee, the Loxahatchee River, the Everglades and the Big Cypress Preserve, Florida Bay, the St. Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon and the Caloosahatchee River.
Sometimes, this means that the South Florida Water Management District or other state, local or federal government entities need to buy lands and retain ownership or access on behalf of the public. As part of the SFWMD's land acquisition activities, the agency handles negotiations for acquisitions, appraisals, environmental assessments, geographic information system (GIS) mapping, land surveying, property title searches and closings.
Land Leasing Program
The South Florida Water Management District's leasing program assists the agency in managing lands acquired for water management purposes or for ecosystem restoration prior to project implementation. In addition, lease holders temporarily keep public lands in production, pay taxes and local assessments, control exotic vegetation and implement best management practices for nutrient management and other water quality improvements. Revenues generated by the leases are used to support land management activities throughout the District.
Updated Policy, Database Enhance Transparency and Access
In April 2012, the SFWMD Governing Board approved revisions to the agency's leasing policy. The policy amendments enhance transparency and strengthen the leasing program by increasing opportunities for agricultural operators and other businesses to lease District land and by expanding public noticing and competition for leases.
To further improve the transparency of the land leasing program, the District has developed a convenient, searchable database of its leased lands. The database enables users to find a variety of information about each property, including the lessee's name, the lease amount, the size of the property, the term of the lease and compliance inspection reports. For each entry, a Google Earth map is available that pinpoints the location of the property.
The South Florida Water Management District acquires land for the purpose of helping the agency meet its mission of environmental restoration, flood control and water resource development and protection.
Surplus lands are District-owned properties that are no longer needed for mission-related projects. Lands that are designated for surplus may be (a) offered for public bid; (b) conveyed by the District to another governmental entity; or (c) used in potential real estate exchange transactions. Periodically reviewing all real estate holdings and identifying surplus lands helps ensure that the agency is directly devoting public assets toward its multi-faceted responsibilities.
The sale or exchange of lands previously identified for possible future surplus is currently on hold while the District conducts a comprehensive land assessment. These properties are being re-evaluated in the land assessment and will be included in the development of regional land portfolios and the public comment process.
Canal reservations that have been reserved by the Everglades Drainage District (EDD) and Trustees of the Internal Improvement Fund (TIIF) may be released. The property owner must complete and submit the District's "Application for Release of Mineral, Canal, and Road Reservations Reserved" (Form #0108). In the case of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund (TIITF) canal reservations, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection requires this agency's approval prior to submitting its application requesting release. Staff will review, on parcels of any size, if present or future right-of-way requirements have been or can be readily determined. The South Florida Water Management District seeks the concurrence of the agency concerned with local or secondary water control prior to releasing Mineral, Canal and Road reservations. Contact the SFWMD Real Estate Section for more information at (561) 682-6836.
In addition to the lands listed as available for surplus, other land interests owned by the District may be available, including easements and canal rights-of-way.
Private landowners and commercial entities that reside adjacent to District canals – who wish for more intense use of public land for their personal benefit; or whose property is encumbered by a District interest, may wish to apply for the surplus or release of that specific interest. more »
If you are interested in learning if a particular property interest may be available for surplus, contact Marcy Zehnder at (561) 682-6694 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Independent appraisal professionals are contracted for most appraisal and some appraisal review needs related to the acquisition of land interests by the District. Qualified appraisers are matched to each appraisal assignment, and they prepare the appraisals in recognition that the vast majority of land acquisitions are accomplished by voluntary means. The judgment or opinion of these appraisers is governed by uniform legal standards. more »
The review appraiser plays an important role in the acquisition process and is charged with assuring the quality and consistency of the appraisal process is maintained. An appraisal review is completed for all appraisal reports of real property to be acquired. The qualified review appraiser determines if the estimate of market value is reasonably supported by an acceptable appraisal.
If you are an appraiser and would like more information regarding being added to the District's approved appraiser vendor list, contact Brad Duncan at email@example.com.