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Land use dispute surrounding protection of Florida panther

On Behalf of | Jul 21, 2020 | Real Estate Litigation |

Many thoughts come to mind when one thinks of Florida. For many, this is beaches, amusement parks, warm weather, oranges, alligators and certain professional sports teams. While all of these are what make the state what it is, some consider the natural resources and animal population distinct to the state as an important component. Because the Florida panther has been listed as an endangered species for nearly five decades, certain policies have been put in place to protect this animal. Furthermore, land has been designated to help promote this population, helping to remove it from the endangered species list.

But when land is set aside for a specific use by the state, federal government agency or wildlife conservation groups, this could cause land use disputes with the citizens of the region or the entire state. Recently, an agreement was signed by the Black Bear Ranch and the U.S. Agricultural Department and the Nature Conservancy in order to designate a portion of the ranch a habitat of the Florida panther. This in turn connects the adjoining properties to the north and the south, creating a travel corridor for the panthers.

Creating such a corridor and utilizing easements has been vital for the big cat population in the state, specifically the Florida panther that is endangered. However, citizens have vocalized their concerns about a new policy that would essentially mean backing off decades of protection for this species. They are essentially opposing efforts to establish a new panther population outside of the southwest region of Florida, which would help get the animal off of the endangered species list.

This resulted in concerns expressed from both sides both sides of the argument. On one hand, members of the community oppose the state to weaken its commitment to re-establish the panther population. On the other hand, hunters and ranchers spoke about panthers taking their game and livestock. All in all, this argument is about land use and how the state will designate millions of acres of public and private land when it comes to the protection of the Florida panther.

Furthermore, it generated the argument for the future use of millions of acres in the state that are undeveloped. With developers constantly looking for areas to develop new communities in the state where these the panther population is beginning to show up, disputes about land use continue. Setting aside more land for the panther population has caused many concern, mostly about the burden not being just on the state of Florida. With ability to move a second population north, there are many concerns when it comes to the new proposed policy.

Land use disputes can expand well beyond private citizens. Businesses and future developments have interests in how land is used. When moving forward with these matters, it is important to evaluate the matter and what rights one is afforded when moving forward with a legal claim.