Florida Native Plant Society
HELP PROTECT THE GREEN SWAMP – The Liquid Heart of Florida
Why is the Green Swamp important?
In the southwest corner of Lake County is the Green Swamp, which extends into Sumter, Hernando, Pasco, and Polk counties. This is an area of hydrological and ecological importance to our county and the state. The Green Swamp provides flood protection, is the source for four rivers, and feeds into the Gulf of Mexico. The dry sandy soil of the Green Swamp’s uplands areas filters much of our drinking water (our source for drinking water whether it comes from a utility or a pump) and recharges the Florida Aquifer.
The Green Swamp also contains areas of relatively undisturbed native habitat that is home to a wide diversity of native plant life and provides critical habitat for a variety of mammals, birds, reptiles, fish, invertebrates and amphibians.
Because of its natural resources, biodiversity, wildlife, and the important water quantity/quality functions it provides, the state designated the Green Swamp” as an “Area of Critical State Concern” in 1974. Even with this heightened state of concern and the acquisition of land for conservation, large portions of the Green Swamp are still under threat of development or commercial exploitation because they remain privately owned.
The Proposed Amendment - What is going on?
The Central Florida Sand Mine Association has requested a major change to the Lake County comprehensive growth plan in order to allow all 6,693 acres of land owned by 5 sand mine companies to be mined and “reclaimed” (not restored) without the current “open space” requirement. The Lake County Comprehensive Plan requires that, within the Green Swamp, development must leave 90% of land for open space. The Sand Mine Association does not want to abide by that rule because, according their letter to Lake County Staff Report, “open space standards escalate mine site land area needs by five to ten times or more making reasonable expansion of existing operations and approval of new operations impractical and not economically feasible.” Meeting the open space requirement is possible; it just means a lesser profit margin. The alternative is the irreplaceable loss of a portion of the Green Swamp eco-system and the natural resources it provides to the citizens of Lake County and all of Florida. Not only that, but a 1997 study concluded sand mines were responsible for about 10 percent of Lake County’s water consumption and more mining means more impact on our roads and traffic.
Although a change affecting such an important area within our state is supposed to require significant scrutiny, the zoning change could have easily passed in February had it not been for the local citizens and activists who spoke up about the negative impact the proposed change would have. Recognizing the public opposition and issues, a majority of the Commissioners decided to table the matter until July 13th in order to obtain more information on the impact the sand mines would have on the Green Swamp. Individual voices can make a difference!
How you can ACT NOW
It is up to us as citizens who recognize the environmental and quality of life values of native habitats to protect this important resource for ourselves and future generations. Please:
- Encourage your elected officials to vote NO on amending the Comprehensive Plan to relax restrictions on mining in the Green Swamp by clicking on this link to email your County Commissioners. If you have trouble with the link, you can send a manual email to:
* Commissioner Shields - DShields@lakecountyfl.gov
* Commissioner Campione - LCampione@lakecountyfl.gov
* Commissioner Parks - SParks@lakecountyfl.gov
* Commissioner Smith - KSmith@lakecountyfl.gov
* Commissioner Blake - JBlake@lakecountyfl.gov
Commissioners received 150 emails in February. Let’s make sure that number is doubled or more before the July meeting! Tell your neighbors to send an email as well.
- Attend the meeting on July 13th to show your opposition to the Comprehensive Plan amendment.
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