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Environment

Hillsborough's Land Preservation Program Celebrates 25 Years

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www.hillsborough.wateratlas.usf.edu

Today, the Parks, Recreation and Conservation Department of Hillsborough County celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Environmental Lands Acquisition and Protection Program, also known as ELAPP.

The land preservation program was created in 1987 when voters approved a quarter-cent tax on every $1,000 of taxable land value. The property tax has a sunset provision every ten years. And Hillsborough County voters have re-approved the ad volorem tax twice by considerable margins.

The money is used to conserve and protect lands with valuable ecological resources in Hillsborough County.

Former County Commissioner Jan K. Platt is credited with conceiving of the local preservation program. At a 25th anniversary celebration, Platt said it was a proud moment for the program.

“It means that the public strongly supports it, and that there are more lands out there to be purchased, to date, 61,000 acres have been purchased but there are more lands because there more people moving into our area,” Platt said. “As that growth occurs, we have to make sure to save those lands which are unique and special to Florida."

The program has allowed Hillsborough to preserve 61,000 acres since 1987. With the continued support of taxpayers, ELAPP officials said they plan to acquire another 30-34,000 acres as well as pay to restore trails and cleanup recreational areas over the next 25 years.