Friday, December 08, 2006

Rural County Futures Predicted In New Study

Glades and Hendry County Expected To Undergo Major Transformation

LABELLE, FLORIDA (Dec. 8, 2006) -- In a study by the University of Florida and the 1000 Friends of Florida, it is predicted that the Florida population and developed land will double over the next 50 years. The study asks what will Florida look like in 2060, when its population is projected to reach almost 36 million.The new study says roughly 7 million acres of additional land will be converted from rural to urban uses, including 2.7 million acres of existing agricultural lands and 2.7 million acres of native habitat.

More than two million acres within one mile of existing conservation lands will be converted to an urban use, which will complicate their management and isolate some conservation lands in a sea of urbanization. The counties projected to undergo the most dramatic transformation, in rank order, will be Glades, Hardee, DeSoto, Hendry, Osceola, Baker, Flagler and Santa Rosa.

The central Florida region will also experience "explosive" growth, with continuous urban development from Ocala to Sebring,
and St. Petersburg to Daytona Beach. Charlotte, Lee and Collier counties are expected to build out before 2060, causing an almost continuous band of urban development along the southwest Florida coast and population spillover into adjacent inland counties.

Southeast Florida will become mostly urbanized, with the exception of some agricultural lands north and south of
Lake Okeechobee. All vacant land in the Florida Keys is projected to be developed, including areas not necessarily accessible by automobile. Duval County is projected build out sometime after 2040, and by 2060 its population is anticipated to spill over into surrounding Nassau, Clay, St. Johns and Baker counties, forever changing their rural character. Only the Panhandle and Big Bend areas are projected to retain significant areas of open space, and this is only if current growth and development patterns continue.

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