BROWARD COUNTY-Broward County Commission officials have decided that $19.3 million of the $400 million Safe Parks and Land Preservation Bond Program will be redirected to purchasing land for open-space projects, as opposed to buying designated conservation lands and green spaces. The decision comes as a result of unforeseen competition from eager developers in buying up the area’s environmentally valuable property. To date, the commission has purchased six of 131 sites on the list of conservation lands and greens paces to acquire.

Established by voters in 2000, the program’s purpose is twofold: to reclaim 1,425 acres of conservation land, green space and open space for preservation; and to upgrade the park system. “Our county’s remaining undeveloped natural lands are disappearing,” commissioner Kristin Jacobs says in a letter to constituents just before the program’s approval. “If the pace of today’s development continues, in four years there won’t be any undeveloped natural lands left.”

Reapportioning the money takes away from what was originally designated as priority–acquiring conservation lands. The program calls for $152 million for conservation land and green space acquisition and $48 million for buying open space properties, which are in developed areas. This most recent decision comes on the heels of a previous decision this month to spend $24 million on 20 open-space properties across the county. But efforts to acquire conservation lands, though difficult, continue. On the commission’s Jun 18 agenda is a motion to approve the $3.4 million purchase of a 12.2-acre plot for the program’s preservation inventory.

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