Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

Land Planning and Administration Section

The Land Planning and Administration Section (LPA) oversees essential functions of land acquisition, planning, and management of state lands managed by the Florida Forest Service and provides support functions to other state agencies in their efforts to acquire and manage forested timberlands. Establishment of timber cruise and timber appraisal specifications for all state land acquisitions is the function of the LPA as well as the review and approval of the timber cruise and timber appraisals for compliance with those specifications for state land acquisitions. The LPA comments, from a land manager’s perspective, on the pre-closing and closing information (survey, title work, environmental assessment) associated with those Florida Forever projects where the Florida Forest Service is designated the lead managing agency. The LPA acts as staff to the Florida Forest Service’s representative seated on the Florida Acquisition and Restoration Council (ARC).

ARC is a ten member committee with representatives from four state agencies, four appointees by the Governor, one appointee by the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and one appointee by the Commissioner of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (Department).  ARC selects and ranks state land acquisition projects on the Florida Forever Priority List, reviews land management plans, land uses for all state-owned conservation lands, and provides input to the Florida Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund (Governor and Cabinet).

ARC is responsible for reviewing and approving the land management plans required to be prepared for all state-owned lands meeting the statutory requirements of Chapter 259, Florida Statutes. The LPA provides team members and coordination for the statutorily mandated Land Management Review process associated with state forests, parks, wildlife management areas, and other state-owned lands to ensure that such lands are managed for the purposes for which they were acquired and the degree to which actual management practices are in compliance with the adopted management plan.

The LPA is responsible for all aspects regarding the implementation of the Department’s Inholdings and Additions Land Acquisition Program, which is funded through the Florida Forever Program. This program is specifically designed as a tool to aide in the management of state forests by acquiring those essential ownerships that were not acquired in the initial phases of the project. These parcels have now been identified as integral to the successful management of the forest by allowing the introduction of prescribed fire to previously inaccessible areas, providing additional public access, and affording additional protections to environmentally important areas.

The LPA also administers the state’s Forest Legacy Program, which is a U.S. Forest Service grant program designed to protect environmentally important forest areas that are threatened by conversion to non-forest uses.  The program encourages voluntary protection of privately owned forestlands through fee simple purchases or conservation easements to promote protection of these valuable forestland ecosystems that protect water quality, provide habitat, forest products, opportunities for recreation, and other public benefits.

The state sponsored Rural and Family Lands Protection Program, an agricultural land preservation program designed to protect important agricultural lands through the acquisition of permanent agricultural land conservation easements, is also coordinated through the LPA. In addition, through the Department’s Relocation and Construction Trust Fund program, the LPA conducts sales of those lands associated with tower sites and work centers that have been determined to be surplus to the needs of the Florida Forest Service as well as acquiring those sites that have been identified as necessary to the mission.