Monday, December 7, 2015

Are Florida's Rural Landowners Bearing Too Much of the Burden of Protected Species?

This week's Business Observer had an opinion piece that's worth a look. In it, Adrian Moore argues that Florida's rural landowners are bearing an unfair burden in managing Florida's listed and endangered species. He says, "[i]t is safe to say that virtually every farm of any kind in the region will be in the watershed of at least one new endangered species. Everyday farming activities that create sediments or runoff, or use fertilizers or pesticides, impact a watershed to some extent and thus all may come under restrictions to protect habitat."

Mr. Moore argues that the management techniques for these species are becoming more restrictive in Florida, as opposed to some other states, such as Texas. He writes:
The Texas approach combines:

- A government task force of state and local agencies that includes both environmental and economic goals to balance protection of species with economic costs.

- Integration of high-quality scientific research on species, habitat and the costs and effectiveness of protection options. - Conservation plans based on voluntary, market-based approaches similar to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Conservation Reserve Program in which state and local agencies share property owners’ cost of protecting habitat for endangered species and provide technical assistance.

- Confidentiality for landowners to protect them from punitive federal regulations if they comply with an approved conservation plan.
Mr. Moore's approach is worth considering. Landowners should take a look at the Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission's Imperiled Species Management Plan. The October 2015 draft plan is a good place to start in understanding what protected species may be on a property and how that species is being managed.