Note: Currently, there is not an open Office of Greenways and Trails (OGT) Acquisition Cycle.
Summary of the OGT Acquisition Process
According to Florida Statutes 259.105, The Florida Forever Act, OGT receives 1.5 percent of Florida Forever money to “acquire greenways and trails or greenways and trail systems pursuant to chapter 260, including, but not limited to, abandoned railroad rights-of-way and the Florida National Scenic Trail and for capital project expenditures as described in this section."
The purpose of the money is to "increase natural resource-based public recreational and educational opportunities, as measured by: the miles of trails that are available for public recreation, giving priority to those that provide significant connections including those that will assist in completing the Florida National Scenic Trail."
As outlined in the Chapter 62S-1 rule, sponsors (person, organization, coalition, government agency or combination thereof) submit candidates for land acquisition anytime during the year by sending in a "Certificate of Eligibility." Once deemed eligible, an application can be submitted during an open acquisition cycle that lasts for at least 60 consecutive days. The projects must meet certain guidelines and have a willing seller and a willing managing entity. Tax documents submitted with the application show the approximate value of the property. OGT staff reviews the applications and may conduct site visits and solicit input from other agencies or nonprofit groups. Reviews must take place within 30 days after the end of the open cycle. Incomplete applications shall be returned to the sponsor for completion and resubmission within 21 days from the date of the letter.
Qualified projects are ranked and placed in two groups -- (A) highest priority and (B) those that are important but not of the highest priority. A written evaluation report is provided to members of the Florida Greenways and Trails Council, and the Council must submit its recommendations to the DEP Secretary within 60 days after at least one public hearing is held (usually as part of a quarterly Council meeting). The Secretary shall either approve the Council’s recommendations or modify them. Approved projects are then submitted to the Division of State Lands for surveys, appraisals and negotiations. When an agreement is made with a landowner, the project goes to the Governor and Cabinet for final approval.
To qualify as a potential acquisition project for the program and close gaps in the current Florida Greenways and Trails Priority System, a project must be located within or adjacent to at least one opportunity segment on one or more of the Recreational Prioritization Maps contained in the Prioritization of Recreational Trail Opportunities for the State of Florida developed by OGT in coordination with the University of Florida, and approved by the Florida Greenways and Trails Council on May 18, 2002.
Preference may also be given to those projects identified on the 2013 Florida Greenways and Trails System Gap Maps.
The Acquisition Program has helped to acquire the land for all or part of several corridors:
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is the state’s lead agency for environmental management and stewardship – protecting our air, water and land. The vision of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection is to create strong community partnerships, safeguard Florida’s natural resources and enhance its ecosystems.