The Nonmandatory Land Reclamation Program was created by the 1982 Legislature (Chapter 378.021, Florida Statutes), which stated:
It is the intent of the Legislature to provide an economic incentive to encourage the reclamation of the maximum number of acres of eligible nonmandatory lands in the most timely and efficient manner or the donation or purchase of nonmandatory lands.
The creation of the program was a result of public concerns over the thousands of acres that had been mined for the severance of phosphate and ultimately abandoned. Identified parcels dated as far back as 1888. The program was created to provide a cost reimbursement grant for landowners for reclamation to eliminate health, safety and environmental issues existing on the abandoned mine sites. The grant was deemed necessary because the cost of reclamation was more than the value of those properties even after reclamation.
A total of 222 parcels were omitted from the comprehensive evaluation, according to the following reasons:
land was previously reclaimed,
land was to be utilized by the industry in future,
land was currently in some form of economic use, or
owner declined participation.
How to Apply
All projects have already been identified and selected, and no new applications are being accepted. This funding program will end when the last of the projects is funded and cleared.
A total of 496 parcels received on-site evaluations based on the three criteria originally contained in Chapter 378, F.S., 1980. Of these 496 parcels, 347 parcels (86,858 acres) were determined to be eligible to participate in the nonmandatory reclamation program. The identification and evaluation of the parcels were reported in “Evaluation of Pre-July 1, 1975 Disturbed Phosphate Lands, September 1980, Zellars-Williams, Inc. and Conservation Consultants, Inc.”
The 2003 Legislature established a deadline of January 1, 2005, for accepting applications for funding of Nonmandatory Land Reclamation Programs. At that time, a total of 18 program applications had been received for the reclamation of 10,055 acres. These parcels have been funded in priority order as appropriations have been provided for the program by the Legislature.
As of June 30, 2016, 197 programs (49,025 acres) have been funded and released, two programs (609 acres) have been acquired by the state, and 15 programs (5,171 acres) are currently funded and being reclaimed. Only two of the program applications (761 acres) remain unfunded, and those two programs will be placed under contract during the 2016-2017 fiscal year.
Please note that subsequent to receipt of program applications on January 1, 2015, three were funded then canceled, one was withdrawn by the applicant, and numerous acres in several of the program areas were re-mined, thus becoming mandatory programs subject to the requirements Rule 62C-17, Florida Administrative Code. Also note, when a reclamation site is funded/contracted, it is referred to as a “program.” A program may be an entire parcel, a portion of a parcel or a combination of parcels. In addition, parcel acres are based on estimated acres while program acres are based on surveyed acres.
With the exception of Fiscal Year 2007-08, all funding for the Nonmandatory Land Reclamation programs has been appropriated from the Nonmandatory Land Reclamation Trust Fund. Income into that fund consists of portions of interest earned, a severance tax paid by the phosphate industry (1983-present), a surcharge paid by the phosphate industry (2009-2011), and a phosphogypsum stack fee paid by chemical plants processing phosphates (2001-2007). In 2007-2008, the Legislature appropriated $4 million of General Revenue funds for the programs.
Comparison of Severance Tax, Interest, Gypstack Fees and Surcharge Chart
Evaluation of Pre-July 1, 1975, Disturbed Phosphate Lands: Executive Summary (September 1980) – A description of the study area, methodology of evaluation, evaluation results, conclusions and recommendations.
Inventory of Pre-July 1, 1975, Disturbed Phosphate Lands – A list of each parcel of land disturbed by the mining of phosphate before July 1, 1975, and the eligibility status of each parcel, as determined by the Evaluation.
Update of Status of Eligible Reclamation Parcels (Summary) – A report showing the status of eligible acres of Nonmandatory lands.
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.