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Environment

Hillsborough Takes Another Step To Purchase USF Preserve And Golf Course

Close-up of a monarch butterfly on a plant.
Jeannie Mounger
/
Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) visiting a pinewoods milkweed (Asclepias humistrata), one of three native milkweed species within the USF Forest Preserve.

Since the University of South Florida's April 1 call-out for development ideas on its Northern Property, Hillsborough County has been quickly looking into conservation options.

Hillsborough County's land acquisition committee met this week to discuss purchasing a wooded preserve and golf course that is part of the University of South Florida's Tampa campus. The group took a step forward, but funding is still uncertain.

The Jan K. Platt Environmental Lands Acquisition and Protection Program, or ELAPP, is a citizen-based program with volunteer committees.

The General Committee of ELAPP received a letter from Hillsborough’s Board of County Commissioners, asking it to consider purchasing and preserving the land, which is just north of the university off Fletcher Avenue.

Related: Hillsborough County Considers Purchasing USF Forest Preserve

Commissioners unanimously voted to approve the letter during their April 21 meeting, after USF began seeking developers for the 769 acres. That led to push-back from current and former students, along with Hillsborough Commissioner Kimberly Overman.

On Monday, the ELAPP committee unanimously supported the county's request to submit the property into its protection process. The land will now have to be assessed and ranked. This move does not mean the county has agreed to buy the land, only that it's officially looking into it.

Click here to watch the ELAPP General Committee meeting

Mirroring the opinions of Hillsborough commissioners, the ELAPP General Committee members said they ideally would not want to spend county dollars, and would rather conserve the parcel through Florida Forever, the state’s lands acquisition program.

Related: USF Students Gather Thousands Of Signatures Against Preserve Development

But members decided to move forward with the county process on this parcel to signify that this is a piece of land worth preserving.

USF set a May 24 deadline for responses to its Request for Information, so county commissioners and the ELAPP committee members pushed to formally let the university know of their interest in conservation by then.

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