The state Division of Historical Resources is urging the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to revise its criteria for purchasing conservation lands to help protect threatened historic sites. Florida Forever is the largest land-buying program in the nation though its funding has been sharply cut during the past two years.
Earlier this year, the state Acquisition and Restoration Council established a new state purchase list with five categories, following the requirements of a 2008 state law. At a meeting Friday, Division of Historical Resources Director Scott M. Stroh told fellow council members that none of the five categories is targeted towards protecting historic and cultural sites.
He cited as an example of the problem the Windover Archaeological Site in Brevard County containing graves and artifacts dating to 6000 BC. The 80-acre site lacks ecological significance, Stroh said, but is internationally important as a prehistoric archaeological site.
“These [historic and cultural] sites are places that are not only important culturally but are potentially of great benefit for heritage tourism [and] public education,” Stroh said.
ARC Chairman Lane Green said the council agreed to move forward with creating a new category for those sites. “For them to compete on a level playing field they have to have their own category because the others don’t fit,” Green said.
Also Friday, the council voted to reduce several proposed purchase projects by 7,500 acres and declined to further consider a 3,272-acre proposed new purchase area in St. Johns County.
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