Top 10 at-risk land purchase areas listed

Florida’s largest springs are ranked by the Florida Forever Coalition as the top-ranked state purchase area at risk for development. Florida Forever is the largest land-buying program in the nation but it could run out of money by the end of the year.

The Legislature provided $300 million a year in bonding authority for the program until last year when it provided nothing. The Senate has included $15 million in its adopted 2010-11 state budget but the House has not included funding in its version of the budget. A conference committee will meet to resolve the budget differences.

To boost support for the program, the coalition today named the top 10 projects based on the threats of development facing them. Gov. Charlie Crist also spoke today during a Florida Forever Day rally outside the Capitol.

The First Magnitude Springs project, which targets land for acquisition around springs in 13 counties, was ranked No. 1 because of the variety of pollution threats to groundwater quality flowing from springs, said Andrew McLeod, director of government affairs for The Nature Conservancy’s Florida chapter

Other top five projects are the Florida Keys Ecosystem, the Wekiva-Ocala greenway, the Caber Coastal Connector in Levy County and the Upper St. Marks River Corridor in Leon, Jefferson and Wakulla counties.

The Top 10 were posted at .

(Photo by Wes Skiles courtesy of the Florida Forever Coalition. Story provided by The Current, produced by the Florida Tribune. Do not copy or redistribute without permission.)