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Community Forum Addresses Ag Reserve, Sensitive Lands
Commissioner Jess Santamaria held his monthly community forum on May 16 at the original Wellington Mall. The topic was preserving and protecting environmentally sensitive lands and the Agricultural Reserve. About 50 western communities residents attended.
Guest speakers included Rob Robbins, director of Palm Beach County Environmental Resources Management (ERM), Isaac Hoyos, principal planner with the Palm Beach County Planning Division, and Joann Davis with 1000 Friends of Florida.
Robbins gave a presentation on the county’s natural areas and conservation lands acquisition, maintenance and management program. The county currently owns and maintains 32,000 acres of natural areas and preserves comprised of pine flatlands, oak hammock, scrub, mangroves, and marsh and cypress wetlands.
Hoyos provided an overview of the history of and land-use policies within the 22,000-acre Agricultural Reserve. The high-yield winter vegetable growing zone is located in south-central Palm Beach County east of the Loxahatchee Wildlife Refuge.
Davis spoke about citizens’ grass-roots efforts in the 1990s that led to passage by voters of two bond referendums totaling $250 million for the purchase and preservation of environmentally sensitive lands and the Ag Reserve.
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