F&N Article 2: A Track Record of Success

Posted on October 15, 2023

Martin County is a special place. That’s why so many of us who weren’t born or raised here decided to move here and call this place home. The small-town charm, the slower pace, the lower density, and of course the abundance of undeveloped, natural lands.

Over the past 10 months, a small group of concerned citizens has been working together on an initiative called “Martin County Forever.” Our mission is to acquire and preserve important natural lands in Martin County for the benefit of present and future generations. 

Why does that matter?  For many obvious reasons. Acquiring land will help to protect the unique character of Martin County, clean and restore our rivers and waterways and safeguard sources of drinking water, preserve valuable wildlife habitat and wetlands, and create more recreational opportunities.

How much land are we talking about and where is it located? There are about 46,000 acres of natural lands within four target areas that are identified on Martin County’s Land Acquisition Map. As seen on the map, they include Blueways, Indian River Lagoon Watershed, Loxa-Lucie and Pal-Mar.

The citizens of Martin County have a long and proud history of supporting the acquisition of environmentally sensitive lands.  Several referendums have been passed where Martin County Citizens voted to tax themselves to generate funding for land acquisition. 

For example, a voter approved half-cent sales tax in 2006 generated about $30 million and was used to leverage an additional $30 million from state and federal sources.  This is often the case, where the County commits to funding a specific local initiative and is then able to secure State and Federal funda to make our local tax dollars go further. 


In fact, many of your favorite parks and preserves were acquired with funds generated from those referendums.  These acquisitions include important preserve areas such as Halpatiokee and Atlantic Ridge state parks, beaches throughout Hutchinson Island and regionally significant park facilities like Indian Riverside Park.  In addition, these acquisitions have been critical to the improving water quality in the St. Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon. 


In total, over 70,000-acres of conservation land have been acquired because of this type of funding. These parks and preserve are used by tens of thousands of people every year and are critical to the Martin County way of life.


There are still significant matching funds available but they are limited and the clock is ticking. Unless we get in-line for them, we will lose out on this opportunity.

We can do it again and shape the change and the future we want.

We know talking about taxes can be controversial but as we’ve embarked on our outreach efforts, we’ve been pleasantly surprised by the widespread support we’ve received for the idea. Environmental groups and business leaders alike have encouraged us to move forward with our proposal to the Martin County Board of County Commissioners - to have referendum language placed on the November 2024 ballot for a half-cent sales tax to purchase and preserve Martin County’s most environmentally sensitive lands.  

A half-cent sales tax could generate about $18.3 million a year for 10 years.  A significant portion (about 38%) would be funded by visitors who spend their money in Martin County.  And importantly, the tax will NOT apply to groceries, prescription medication or school supplies.  Also of significance is that properties would only be acquired from willing sellers.

Skeptics might want to know how we can trust our government to spend the money as intended.  That’s why we’ll be building safeguards into the referendum language including the creation of a Citizen Advisory Committee and an audit among other things. 

If you’d like to schedule a presentation to your group or association, please contact us at martincountyforever@gmail.com.

For more information, visit our newly launched website at www.martincountyforever.com.  and follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/martincountyforever.

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