Florida Department of Environmental Protection Meeting Produced Some Strange Ideas For Making Money Off State Land

Categories: Environment
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Hello. You pay taxes in Florida, and have a stake in state-owned lands and public parks. So naturally, you want the state to save money on those lands, and would be supportive of such enterprising ideas as building a privately run wood-pellet mill on public land that will sell product to England and Belgium. Right???

That's just one of the ideas that came out from a meeting last July of managers in the state's Department of Environmental Protection. The directive of the "strategic planning session" was reportedly to explore "(1) regulatory efficiency and (2) cost reduction." According to their notes, attendees certainly came up with some... innovative ideas.

The notes were obtained in a public-records request by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), based in Washington, DC. More on the pellet factory and other ideas after the jump.

PEER put out a press release publicizing what it calls some "truly astonishing schemes," culled from meeting notes and marginalia from the session. It's not clear that any of these ideas would actually be acted upon or taken seriously, and nobody should be demonized for making note of harebrained ideas. We're waiting for comment from the DEP about the press release.

The ideas included:

  • Marketing the sale of state owned land...to other countries. "* look @some land we simply own, but strategically don't need...sell it...perhaps keep an env. easement."  One marginal note read '"we know Florida, we don't know Germany's needs for land"';
  • Move state offices into state parks.  In a note attributed to Vinyard "Secretary -we have a lot of land to use w/in state park. Satellite offices?"; and
  • "Work w/ Private Sector to build Biomass on State Lands...pellet mills/wood pellets to Eng., Belgium. We are losing business to Georgia. Yes, we have a resource."  The notes also suggested "link it [harvesting] to good stewardship."
Damn Georgia and its pellet mills! We need to capitalize all this land we have just sitting around for public use! Love the resigned tone of "Yes, we have a resource." Good job, Florida.

Germany's needs for land would seem, to a layman, to already be met. They have a lot of land. It's called Germany. However, the idea of selling off Florida to another country isn't all that unappealing.

"The underlying theme of these planning sessions what that DEP is now supposed to be run like it is a business. The actual proposals indicate that DEP would be run like a business in liquidation," wrote Jerry Phillips, Florida director of PEER and a former DEP attorney.


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