Preservationists upset over plans for wetlands near Oleta River State Park

Some in state government say Oleta Annex in S. Fla. is unneeded

NORTH MIAMI, Fla. - Gov. Rick Scott has directed all state agencies that own land to review their holdings and sell off any surplus land they don't really need.

This move is leading to a large outcry from outdoor enthusiasts and preservationists over a developer's plans for wetlands near Oleta River State Park.

Sam Van Leer has been walking through mangroves in South Florida since he was 10 years old.

"These mangroves here probably started growing around 1920 to 1930," said Van Leer.

Home to Fiddler Crabs and Crab Spiders, the 129 acres sits on land near Oleta River State Park -- land some in state government said is unneeded.

"Unprintable, bad, unbelievable," was Van Leer's reaction when he saw the surplus land list.

Van Leer said mangroves provide valuable fish feeding areas, bird habitat and the trees take carbon out of the air and filters water for all South Florida.

"The old mangroves here cannot be replaced, especially 129 acres right in the city," said Van Leer.

Location may be what put Oleta Annex on the surplus land list. Van Leer said the state's looking at money Oleta Annex may generate from developers.

"What they should be doing is looking at the conservation value, the value to the community, protecting the community, all these other things," said Van Leer.

Van Leer said he is already marshaling his forces. His Urban Paradise Guild is contacting city, county and state elected officials to get the annex crossed off the list.

"We're here among nature and to have this priceless artifact of a prior age, mostly a pre-development age right in the city, is just an amazing thing," said Van Leer.

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