Friday, September 25, 2009
Is there a sturgeon in the house?
State pays Flagler family to keep farm land
July 28, 2009
Historic City News learned that Flagler County ranchers Gene and Marilyn Evans farm-raise sturgeon; a fish that produces pure white steak meat and a rare caviar. And now, the state is giving the couple money to keep it that way.
The governor and Cabinet on Tuesday approved a conservation easement for the Evans family that will pay them more than $2.7 million to keep the land away from developers. The state will pony up half of the money, with the St. Johns River Water Management District paying the other half.
This is the state’s first acquisition of a conservation easement through the Rural and Family Lands Protection Program that was passed in 2001.
“This is a great start to keeping lands in agriculture,” Florida Agriculture Commissioner Charlie Bronson said as the Cabinet signed off on the easement.
Under conservation easements, the government essentially pays a landowner to restrict the use of the land and protect it from certain types of development or use. Without such agreements, many small farmers would sell their land to developers. The easements allow the state to steer the use of certain lands away from development while preserving certain elements deemed important to the community – such as preserving the environmental character of the land or preserving small family farms.