ELAPP to purchase land to protect near Little Manatee River and Cypress Creek
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08/09/11 Janelle Irwin
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Hillsborough's Environmental Lands Acquisition and Protection Program (ELAPP) held a meeting last night to accept nominations for new sites to purchase. There were none. But the team did accept two nominations for boundary modifications to existing ELAPP properties.

Another victim of a failing economy reared its ugly head last night. Partnerships with state organizations to maximize ELAPP resources were once a readily available luxury. The organization began in 1987 with the intention of preserving land for both ecological and light recreational purposes. Sally Thompson is a member of the site review team. She said the ability to work in conjunction with other agencies was paramount in their success.

ELAPP has seen a drastic reduction in the number of properties nominated for acquisition. This year there wasn’t a single nomination for a full site assessment and only two for boundary modifications. Pair that with last year’s lull in nominations and the assessment team finds themselves looking for answers.

But a lack in public funding isn’t the only problem. Despite cuts and a tough economy, ELAPP still has about $12 million in bonds to work with. Thompson said getting the public back on board and excited about the program is a crucial part in growing their mission.

Thompson also suggested updates to the organization’s website as well as presentations at public meetings. Fred Webb, a citizen involved with ELAPP said people need to realize just how much these programs, and others like it, contribute to popular Florida pastimes.

The two boundary modifications that were accepted last night will increase the size the Little Manatee River Corridor as well as the Cypress Creek Jennings Addition. Webb said additions such as these not only add space to properties, they often make access more readily available. ELAPP officials will now take the matter to the next step which will involve a purchase agreement for the land. ELAPP cannot purchase properties for greater than their fair market value.

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