Conservation Planning

“Plans to protect air and water, wilderness and wildlife are in fact plans to protect man.”
Stewart Udall

Florida Growth Trends

On an average day, more than 800 people move to Florida, resulting in 267 acres of new development every 24 hours. This is a total of 152 square miles of natural and agricultural land lost to development each year. Our future quality of life depends on what we do today to protect our natural systems and maintain the environmental character of our region.

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* Source: Department of Environmental Protection

Conservation Tools

Conservation Easement
Conservation easements are legal agreements between landowners and conservation organizations like the Tampa Bay Conservancy. These contracts meet legal conservation standards, and dissolve the development rights on some or all portions of a property. The development rights that may remain are those reserved by the original landowners who established the easement and cannot conflict with the overall conservation value of the land. Conservation easements are either donated (and often are rewarded with tax incentives) or are purchased. The easement is then held by a non-profit conservation organization like the Tampa Bay Conservancy, who has been granted the legal right to enforce the intentions of the grantor of the conservation easement. Easements may be oriented toward agricultural production, natural systems, scenic vistas or any combination of these. Conservation easements are perpetual and remain in effect when the land is bought, sold or passed on to heirs. Having a conservation easement on a property does not necessarily result in public access.

Life Estate
A life estate is a legal mechanism that allows a landowner to transfer ownership immediately, while reserving the right to continue using the property during his or her lifetime. The difference between the full value of the property and the value of its lifetime use may in some cases be claimed as a charitable donation for federal tax purposes; the value of the property is also removed from the estate. As with conservation easements, a life estate can be either donated or purchased.

Fee Acquisition
In some cases, the Tampa Bay Conservancy may elect to become the owner of a property in fee simple, either through a donation or purchase. This would allow the Conservancy to fully protect the environmental and resource-related values of the land, and have direct responsibility for land management.

Mitigation
Under very limited circumstances, a parcel of land may be protected under a conservation easement in order to provide mitigation for off-site development impacts. This method could only be considered after careful evaluation of the environmental impacts of the development project requiring mitigation. It offers the potential for financial compensation by the developer. Mitigation projects will only be considered if they meet the conservation goals of the Tampa Bay Conservancy.

Conservation Initiatives/Partnerships

Pascowildlife, Inc.
Pascowildlife, Inc. came into existence in the early summer of 2000 and has members that have worked tirelessly to establish an environmental lands program in Pasco County. They have developed strong relationships with county and municipal officials and have over 200 active volunteers. The group was instrumental in convincing Pasco County commissioners to pass a resolution creating the Environmental Lands Acquisition Task Force (ELATF). The Task Force helped the County create the implementation infrastructure for the Pasco County Environmental Lands Acquisition and Management Program (ELAMP). The referendum passed in Pasco County in 2005 and the ELAMP is fully operational.

Land Trust Alliance
Land Trust Alliance supports local land trusts such as the Tampa Bay Conservancy, and works to increase both the quality and pace of land conservation by land trusts and their partners. LTA trains land trust practitioners, promotes best practices, encourages strategic conservation and advocates for incentives and funding for land conservation. The TBC is a member of the Alliance, and has received grant funding from the LTA in support of the partnership with Pascowildlife, Inc., as well as a capacity building grant.

The Nature Conservancy (TNC)
The Nature Conservancy (TNC) has provided TBC with valuable GIS mapping assistance and notifies the TBC of potential land conservation opportunities in the Tampa Bay region.

Hillsborough River Watershed Alliance
The Tampa Bay Conservancy is an active participant in the Alliance, and is ready to play an active role in the effort to protect critical habitat within the Hillsborough River watershed.

The Wildlife Fellowship
The Wildlife Fellowshipis a non-profit environmental stewardship organization dedicated to improving the protection and management of existing preservation lands. This group offers environmental assessment and land management services to the TBC.