F&N Article 6: Why Buy More Land

Posted on January 21, 2024

Why should we acquire more land?

If you’ve read our past columns in Friends & Neighbors, you understand why acquiring and preserving environmentally significant natural lands in Martin County is critical to protecting our quality of life and a key part of what makes our town so special. You can get caught up on our past columns here.  

Now we’re getting close to game time! Our goal of having a half-cent sales tax placed on the November 2024 ballot is gaining traction in the community.  We’ve been listening to residents and working to address concerns about how the funds would be used. We’ve created strong “guardrails” in our proposal to ensure taxpayer funds will be used solely to obtain, conserve, and maintain lands within four key regions in perpetuity.

Martin County residents have done this before. We’ve voted to tax ourselves to protect what matters most to us.  We hope you share our vision of a Martin County that continues to be low density, with a wealth of natural lands, flourishing ecosystems, healthy rivers and wetlands, abundant wildlife, and many recreational opportunities for all.   

We’ve drafted referendum and ordinance language that will be reviewed by the Martin County Board of County Commissioners at a public meeting sometime within the next two months.  If County Commissioners approve of putting the referendum on the ballot in November that means voters get to decide if they want to tax themselves.

And why would voters want to do that? Simply put, if a temporary sales tax is approved, the funds generated can be used to leverage additional matching funds from state and federal grants – stretching our local dollars even further.  Partnering with state and federal agencies also adds another layer of oversight and further ensures the lands will be preserved and managed in perpetuity.

Why should Martin County acquire more land?

Like the rest of Florida, Martin County is growing.  And while our growth may be slower than other counties, it’s still happening. We see it all around us.  We see the impacts. Population growth, more traffic on the roads, increased flooding issues, water quality problems in the St. Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon, loss of wildlife habitat and more.  

The natural lands targeted for acquisition through the Martin County Forever initiative will help clean and restore our rivers and waterways, safeguard sources of drinking water, create wildlife corridors, provide more access to beaches and shorelines, and increase hiking, biking, kayaking, boating, fishing and other recreational activities.

In addition to those many benefits, preserving natural lands reaps economic returns as well. Conservation lands increase property values, promote more efficient development and enhances ecotourism efforts.  

Martin County has already acquired about 71,000-acres of conservation land through this type of temporary sales tax funding.  There are another 46,000 undeveloped acres within the four target areas that could potentially be acquired. Some of those lands are at high risk of development over the next decade if we don’t act now.  

Please reach out to us at martincoutnyforever@gmail.com and we’d be happy to answer any questions you have or make a presentation to your group.

For more info visit www.martincountyforever.com, follow us on Facebook at facebook.com/martincountyforever or on Instagram at instagram.com/martincountyforever

Thank you!


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