News / Events
Farmton agreements open new wonders to the public
May 24, 2013
Within two years the public will begin enjoying the benefits of a historic land deal that will set aside for conservation 43,000 acres — many of them wild and scenic — in Volusia County and northern Brevard County.
The agreements made in connection with the controversial Farmton Local Plan will allow the public to explore an area around the confluence of Deep Creek and the St. Johns River. In March Volusia County took ownership of 1,400 acres along the creek. This land will be opened to the public gradually, in a process affected by the hunting leases the previous owners of the property, the Miami Corp., still have in place. The county also needs to provide access to the remote land south of the Osteen-Maytown Road.
Those who have seen this beautiful tract have no doubt that it will become a priceless public asset. Here is Volusia County Councilwoman Pat Northey's assessment: "When the public finally has an opportunity to explore the land, they're going to fall in love. It's a magical place."
News-Journal reporter Dinah Volyes Pulver described a place covered by ferns, with bald cypress trees dominating the creek bank and the calls of wild turkeys and limpkins filling the air.
The county plans to allow limited public access to the Deep Creek area, in the form of organized field trips, beginning sometime next year. Eventually, visitors will be able use walking trails, launch kayaks and camp in primitive camping areas.
This is just one benefit of the Farmton agreements, reached amid controversy over a long-term plan that will allow for the development of about 15,000 acres of a vast 59,000-acre tract in Volusia and Brevard counties. The development will be intense: At some point in the future, there could be 23,000 homes and more than 4 million feet of commercial space in the developed area. The plan calls for buffers, green space and the application of "smart growth" principles, but environmental groups protested the commercial and residential development included in it.
Miami Corp. has owned this land for more than 90 years. The property has been used chiefly for hunting and timber. In the future it should generate jobs, wealth and substantial revenue for local governments. And those 43,000 acres will be held in conservation as provided for in the agreements.
The controversy over Farmton should fade as Volusia County residents begin to see the tangible benefits of the agreements. There were trade-offs but the net result will be the protection of a huge undeveloped area of the county and the opening of new natural wonders for the enjoyment of county residents.