Sunday, January 29, 2012

Tampa Bay Times and Florida Sportsman: Oppose Public Land Giveaway!

The Tampa Bay Times published an excellent editorial this morning urging the Florida legislature to stop the environmental land giveaway that will happen if HB 1103 and SB 1362 are passed and become law.  Please follow the original story link HERE to see the article as published by the Times if you have the capability, or you can read it in full below.
Proponents of these identical bills include the Florida Cattlemen’s Association and other large land owners who stand to gain ownership of hundreds of thousands of acres of water front property.  This is land now held in public trust for you, the camper, fisherman, kayaker and hunter as well any resident or tourist who wants to enjoy Florida’s vast flowing waterways and lakes.  (See Sandspur’s earlier post on this HERE or at
If these bills are passed and become law, hundreds of thousands of acres will be permanently and unalterably taken from you and given to adjacent landowners who will have a legal right to bar you from these lands and charge you with trespass if you should find yourself upon them.  If you are a hunter and trespass with a weapon, you can be charged with felony armed trespass and imprisoned.
The bills are sponsored by Rep. Tom Goodson, R-Titusville) ( and Sen. Alan Hays (

Rep. Ray Pilon
Why are you supporting HB 1103?

Email them and tell them how you dislike what they’re trying to do.
At the House Agriculture & Natural Resources Subcommittee which met on January 17 in Tallahassee, here is who voted for and against the bill:
Voting FOR: 
(Email these people and express your displeasure at their support of this offensive bill.  Ask them why they voted for it!)

Voting AGAINST:  
(Send these folks an email thanking them for opposing this offensive bill)

Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda  (Tap HERE to send a email)

A Tampa Bay Times Editorial
Stop Legislature's land grab
Sunday, January 29, 2012

It would be foolish to deny the public access to hundreds of thousands of acres of waterfront property in a misguided attempt to clarify where state waterways end and private property begins. But that would happen under bills working their way through the Legislature. More civic-minded lawmakers should halt this land grab that could cut off access for hunting, fishing, swimming and other public activities.
HB 1103 and SB 1362 would change the definition of the "ordinary" high mark that acts as the dividing line in Florida between navigable waters held by the state in public trust and upland property that belongs to private owners. Florida assumed title to lands under the navigable waters upon becoming a state in 1845, and the state has a duty to preserve them for navigation, swimming, fishing and other legal public uses.
Under existing law, the water line is the "ordinary or normal reach" of water during the high-water season. The proposed bills would change that definition so the public property would no longer include areas where the water rises along the shoreline due to the rain. The dry season — not the wet — would determine the boundary between public and private property. That could privatize between 100,000 and 500,000 acres of shoreline now being used by hunters, canoeists, campers and others. And it would allow anyone interested in developing the property for use as a marina or other for-profit venture to avoid paying the state for a submerged lands lease.
The courts have established that the high water mark can be established by several measures, such as a physical marker that clearly shows the end of a water line and the upland shore. The proponents say the bill would help "clarify" the line between public and private property. There is nothing wrong with steps that increase the accuracy of surveys of the state's rivers, lakes and streams. But this bill does far more — whittling back the public water line to the dry-season boundary. The legislation could turn outdoor enthusiasts into trespassers and undermine efforts to protect natural habitat critical for controlling floods and preserving the state's drinking water supply. Lawmakers should shelve this bill. Generating more consistency in the titling process for private landowners should not be cover for taking away long-established public lands.

Copyright 2012 Tampa Bay Times

The website of the The Florida Sportsman, “Bill Could Turn Public Water Access Private”  has this to say about the bills

The bill(s) would:

•Change the boundary of lakes, rivers and streams from the ordinary high water line to the low water line

•Be a giveaway of 500,000 acres of shores and littoral marshes from state ownership to big landowners

•Thwart Everglades restoration as marshes on rivers and lakes filter out fertilizer and other pollutants that are destroying the River of Grass

•Allow the shore of all rivers and lakes to become private property

If all rivers and lakes became private property, boaters could be arrested for getting out of their vessel and stepping on the shore, for standing on the shore fishing, for picnicking on the shore, or for camping on the shore. Fishermen could get arrested for taking their boats past the low water line during the high water season. Even hunters could get arrested for hunting in marshes that are dry in the low water season.

House Bill 1103 would validate bogus swamp deeds from the 1800s that Supreme Court decisions for the past 100 years have held do not affect state-owned water bottoms. Once the bill gives the land away to big landowners, it would not be possible to get it back without buying it for billions of dollars. Every governor in the past 50 years has stopped these efforts to give away state water bottoms.

Florida Sportsman members have been asked to email representatives and explain why they oppose the bill.

The bills are also strongly opposed by the Florida Conservation Coalition and Florida Audubon.


  1. Hopefully the scarecrow will find his brain after all! People like you who command attention are making the difference. Grass roots brow-beaters like me are seldom heard. Thanks for standing up and shouting. If not for you I would likely be unaware of the issues. The issues here are damned important. Thanks for educating all of us.

  2. It is absolutely hard to believe that the FLORIDA House of REPRESENTATVES and SENATE would consider a bill that would TAKE public lands from PUBLIC ownership to satisfy a few constituents who will gain thousands of acres of land at the expense of Florida taxpayers. Please reconsider what you are doing to those of us who enjoy these areas now for hunting, fishing, kyaking, and photography. Once this bill passes these lands are gone forever---there will be no going back. Many of us will work hard to elect people in the future who are responsive to "regular" taxpayers in this State. This nothing but a rip-off of the general public.

    Gary Kuhl
    Former Exec. Dir., Southwest Florida Water Management District; Former County Administrator of Hernando and Citrus counties

  3. I support the Florida Cattleman’s position on this issue. The State has no right to confiscate property in the name of the “Public”, just because they cannot define where the “navigable waters” were in March 3, 1845. They have abused property owners terribly, causing them large legal bills to defend their property. Now that the shoe is on the other foot, listen to them squeal. Stay off my property with your boats and beer and let me live in peace. I like it the old fashioned way, hang criminals, shoot horse thieves and let your neighbor live in peace.

  4. At our last meeting Thursday evening, the TOO FAR board of directors voted unanimously to stand against this legislation.
    Al Grubman, President