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The Florida Statutes

The 2023 Florida Statutes (including Special Session C)

Chapter 373
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F.S. 373.1391
373.1391 Management of real property.
(1)(a) Lands titled to the governing boards of the districts shall be managed and maintained, to the extent practicable, in such a way as to ensure a balance between public access, general public recreational purposes, and restoration and protection of their natural state and condition. Except when prohibited by a covenant or condition described in s. 373.056(2), lands owned, managed, and controlled by the district may be used for multiple purposes, including, but not limited to, agriculture, silviculture, and water supply, as well as boating and other recreational uses.
(b) Whenever practicable, such lands shall be open to the general public for recreational uses. General public recreational purposes shall include, but not be limited to, fishing, hunting, horseback riding, swimming, camping, hiking, canoeing, boating, diving, birding, sailing, jogging, and other related outdoor activities to the maximum extent possible considering the environmental sensitivity and suitability of those lands. These public lands shall be evaluated for their resource value for the purpose of establishing which parcels, in whole or in part, annually or seasonally, would be conducive to general public recreational purposes. Such findings shall be included in management plans which are developed for such public lands. These lands shall be made available to the public for these purposes, unless the district governing board can demonstrate that such activities would be incompatible with the purposes for which these lands were acquired. The department in its supervisory capacity shall ensure that the districts provide consistent levels of public access to district lands, consistent with the purposes for which the lands were acquired.
(c) In developing or reviewing land management plans when a dispute arises that has not been resolved by a water management district’s final agency action, that dispute must be resolved under chapter 120.
(d) For any fee simple acquisition of a parcel which is or will be leased back for agricultural purposes, or for any acquisition of a less-than-fee interest in lands that is or will be used for agricultural purposes, the district governing board shall first consider having a soil and water conservation district created pursuant to chapter 582 manage and monitor such interest.
(2) Interests in real property acquired by the districts under this section with funds other than those appropriated under the Florida Forever Act may be used for permittable water resource development and water supply development purposes under the following conditions: the minimum flows and levels of priority water bodies on such lands have been established; the project complies with all conditions for issuance of a permit under part II of this chapter; and the project is compatible with the purposes for which the land was acquired.
(3) Each district is encouraged to use volunteers to provide land management and other services. Volunteers shall be covered by liability protection and workers’ compensation in the same manner as district employees, unless waived in writing by such volunteers or unless such volunteers otherwise provide equivalent insurance.
(4) Each water management district is authorized and encouraged to enter into cooperative land management agreements with state agencies or local governments to provide for the coordinated and cost-effective management of lands to which the water management districts, the Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund, or local governments hold title. Any such cooperative land management agreement must be consistent with any applicable laws governing land use, management duties, and responsibilities and procedures of each cooperating entity. Each cooperating entity is authorized to expend such funds as are made available to it for land management on any such lands included in a cooperative land management agreement.
(5) The following additional uses of lands acquired pursuant to the Florida Forever program and other state-funded land purchase programs shall be authorized, upon a finding by the governing board, if they meet the criteria specified in paragraphs (a)-(e): water resource development projects, water supply development projects, stormwater management projects, linear facilities, and sustainable agriculture and forestry. Such additional uses are authorized where:
(a) Not inconsistent with the management plan for such lands;
(b) Compatible with the natural ecosystem and resource values of such lands;
(c) The proposed use is appropriately located on such lands and where due consideration is given to the use of other available lands;
(d) The using entity reasonably compensates the titleholder for such use based upon an appropriate measure of value; and
(e) The use is consistent with the public interest.

A decision by the governing board pursuant to this subsection shall be given a presumption of correctness. Moneys received from the use of state lands pursuant to this subsection shall be returned to the lead managing agency.

(6) The districts have the authority to adopt rules that specify: allowable activities on district-owned lands; the amount of fees, licenses, or other charges for users of district-owned lands; the application and reimbursement process for payments in lieu of taxes; the use of volunteers for management activities; and the processes related to entering into or severing cooperative land management agreements. Rules promulgated pursuant to the subsection shall become effective only after submitted to the President of the Senate and Speaker of the House of Representatives for review by the Legislature not later than 30 days prior to the next regular session. In its review, the Legislature may reject, modify, or take no action relative to such rules. The districts shall conform such rules to changes made by the Legislature, or, if no action is taken, such rules shall become effective.
History.s. 34, ch. 99-247; s. 14, ch. 2000-170; s. 16, ch. 2008-229; s. 37, ch. 2015-229.