A HUGE conservation win for St. Johns County!
After years of advocacy from the environmental community, the St. Johns County Commission has finalized the Land Acquisition and Management Program (LAMP) to acquire and preserve environmentally sensitive land in St. Johns County.
As the second fastest growing county in the state, St. Johns County is experiencing its fair share of growing pains. Unsustainable growth threatens our environmental resources, our agricultural heritage, and our way of life. Through the early 2000s, St. Johns County maintained the Land Acquisition and Management Program (LAMP) which focused on acquiring and preserving environmentally sensitive land. Community landmarks such as Alpine Groves River Park, Vilano Beach Oceanfront Park, and the Southeast Intracoastal Waterway Park were acquired and preserved because of the LAMP program.
Unfortunately, the LAMP program was put on hold in 2008 due to funding limitations and never reinitiated once state conservation funding was available again. For the last couple of years Matanzas Riverkeeper, along with partners in the conservation community, have worked to try to get the LAMP program restarted, but ultimately, the decision rested with the St. Johns County Commissioners. In January of this year, the Board of County Commissioners voted to reactivate the LAMP. In March, the ordinance to restart the program passed its first reading before the Board of County Commissioners and was approved and finalized during the second reading on June 15. The motion was made by Commissioner Dean with a second by Commissioner Whitehurst, and Commissioners Blocker and Waldron also voting in support.
"We are so excited that St. Johns County has recognized the need to offset development with land conservation" said Matanzas Riverkeeper, Jen Lomberk. "Our natural resources are one of the main reasons that people love living here and we need to protect them. LAMP will help us do that."
The program will be funded with $500,000 annually and an advisory board will be appointed to prioritize projects and make recommendations for acquisition to the Board of County Commissioners.