Eco-space the problem, not the solution

October 16, 2003

By Ed Clark

Excerpted with permission from the Brevard Insider

Malabar, Florida

Back in the dark old days of the scrub jay habitat battles in the early
nineties, speaker after speaker stood in county meetings and asked, "Who will make up the lost revenue when all this habitat land is taken off the tax rolls?" Now, we know. We will, if the penny passes.

Other speakers pointed out that, according to County Appraiser Jim Ford's records, about 60% of Brevard was already owned by government, either the state, county, federal government, or the St. Johns River Water Management District.

What would be the value for tax purposes of this land in private hands today?

More than enough to pay the penny -- a dozen times over.

Latest reports are that the county wants another 75,000 acres of land off the tax rolls for refuges.

When the question was asked years ago in open forum, "When will you have enough land?" there was no answer. Except from one Audubon member, who put it this way: "We wish we could save it all". No word on whether he has torn down his own home and moved out of the area.

Quoting an article by Jim Waymer in our local daily of record today:

"The biggest environmental item on the list by far is the $50 million the
county plans to spend on closing gaps between its existing 17,000 acre network of green space. That could cover about half the cost for another potential 75,000 acres the county wants, most in Brevard's northern- and southern-most regions.

'This is to allow species movement, open corridors and space,' said Anne Birch, who manages the county's Environmentally Endangered Lands Program. It would cost about $500,000 a year for controlled burns and other maintenance of that additional green space, Birch said."

(We have it from none other than Margaret Hames that maintenance of a
preserve costs from 15% to 25% of acquisition costs, EVERY YEAR.)

"Commissioner Ron Pritchard said the county already has enough green space.

'That's a huge amount of money to be taking off the tax role,' Pritchard

'The land is going to be areas that remain inaccessible,' Pritchard said.
'You'll be spending public money and the public won't be able to utilize it.'

The above-mentioned Margaret Hames asked me once after a public meeting (1992) in which I had spoken against the county's acquisition of more green space, "Why does it always come down to money?"

I answered, "Because money is the measure of human effort." There are always costs, and tradeoffs. Money is not free.

The greatest refuge for wildlife is in our backyards. Why? Because that is
where their food supply most often is. Don't believe me? Go to any preserve.

Look for the wildlife. Then, go home and look in your own back yard. But
you better do it quick. In a few years, we won't be able to afford the taxes
on that back yard. But we'll have oodles of preserves.

Brevard Insider is published 5 times a week except holidays at 1106
Ramblebrook St., Malabar, Fl. 32950. 321-956-0815. Fax: 321-956-8762. Email Copyright 2003. Publisher Pond Press, Inc. Editor: Edward S. Clark. Assistant editor: Dan Warrensford. Contributing editors Doug Doudney, J. D. Tucker, Michael Moehle, Bob Brewster, David Russell, Chuck Morley, Bill Love. Contrarian: Robert D. Clark. Electronic distribution: Tim Wooley. Subscription price $6.50 per month.


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