State Lands, Including Cottage Hill Forest, Future 4-H Location, For Sale?

August 28, 2013

The Cottage Hill State Forest in Gonzalez — a recommended location for the future of Escambia County 4-H — is among several parcels of public land that may be sold by the state to raise money.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection will hold workshops in Pensacola and other cities across the state as the state looks to sell some parcels of publicly held land to raise up to $50 million for future land-conservation efforts.

More than 5,300 acres from 168 different parcels at 67 state parks and other publicly owned sites are being considered for the sale.

In Escambia County, the state may look to sell the Cottage Hill State Forest and 3.4 acres of the Tarkiln Bayou Preserve State Park. In Santa Rosa County, and 4.8 acres of the  Blackwater Heritage State Trail and the  20 acre Gillis Road Track could be put on the market.

The Cottage Hill State Forest is located in the Cottage Hill Community. The forest has no public road frontage, but is in the area bounded by McKenzie Road, Chavers Road, Williams Ditch Road and Highway 95A.  About 24 acres of the site is uplands, while 4.7 acres is flood plain and wetlands.

University of Florida/IFAS Extension Dean Nick Place made a three-part final recommendation in July for Escambia County 4-H. Following the sale of the Langley Bell 4-H Center to Navy Federal Credit Union, Place was tasked with deciding a future location or locations for the 4-H program. His proposal included the Cottage Hill State Forest for environmental and horticultural sciences, outdoor education, forestry and other 4-H activities.  [Read more...] According to a task force report, the state was willing to deed the property to Escambia County at no cost, while the state would continue to maintain fire breaks on the property.

The Tarkiln Bayou Preserve (pictured left), is home to four species of endangered pitcher plants, as well as other rare and endangered plant species. The rare, carnivorous white-top pitcher plant is unique to the Gulf Coast and found only between the Apalachicola and Mississippi rivers. Almost 100 other rare plants and animals depend on the wet prairie habitat, including the alligator snapping turtle, sweet pitcher plant, and Chapman’s butterwort. A boardwalk offers visitors a view of the Tarkiln Bayou.

The proposal to sell state lands  has already drawn concerns from the Florida Wildlife Federation, 1000 Friends of Florida, and Audubon Florida. Money raised from sales would be combined with $20 million that lawmakers included in the budget for the purchase of land to protect springs, water quality, water quantity or to serve as a buffer for military bases.

The state Acquisition and Restoration Council, a group that makes recommendations about land issues, will update the process to score the land on September 13. Under the scoring process, each parcel of land much meet certain criteria in order to be considered for sale. Those criteria include springs protection value, proximity to development, sinkhole features, recreation value, floodplain protection and species protection.

The date and location of the Pensacola workshop on the proposed land sales has not yet been announced.


15 Responses to “State Lands, Including Cottage Hill Forest, Future 4-H Location, For Sale?”

  1. Christine on October 22nd, 2013 8:14 am

    The Extension is not looking to hold the Livestock show on the Cottage Hill property. They will use this location for other 4-H environmental activities.
    They are looking to hold the Livestock show at the Equestrian Center.

  2. sue on August 30th, 2013 12:59 pm

    Tori, the Tarklin Bayou property is not associated with the 4-H land deal. It is only one of several properties the state is considering selling here in Escambia County.
    The property known as Cottage Hill State Forest (located in COTTAGE HILL, FLORIDA, not Gonzalez…) is the one Nick Place recommended for the 4-H kids. It is really NOT a good location for their use. It is, in my opinion, a token wink of ground, crumbs, if you will…thrown to the kids. It does not have good accessibility, it is not developed, is currently growing pine, underbrush, etc) there is absolutely NO infrastructure, and would be years before it could be cleaned, cleared, construction of needed facilities, etc.
    What in the world is IFAS thinking/doing????

  3. Tori on August 30th, 2013 9:24 am

    So with all of those endangered and rare plants will the 4-H be able to develop the land for show arenas and holding pens? Or be able to put adequate parking for shows?
    The Escambia County Extension office really is failing this program and the youth of the community with all of their road blocks and greed.

  4. david lamb on August 29th, 2013 12:33 pm

    Columbo says: One more thing!
    It bothers me that at sometime in the past someone gave the state the land called Cottage Hill State Park, to be used in a specific manner, Now years later the State wants to sell it. Be ware of who and what you donate and make sure you enter legal clauses to prevent your wishes from being ignored!

  5. david lamb on August 29th, 2013 12:29 pm

    As one who has been around AG and farming all my life, even in the Air Force, I have found that one or two people in a community, AG oriented or not, will use zoning or other local laws to stop their neighbor from using THEIR land for THEIR benefit. ALways someone calling zoning, city, county or police to cause a problem. I have seen it everywhere I have lived and have even been a victim myself. Same will happen in Cottage Hill! That reason and all the reasons my sister Teresa listed, makes the Cottage Hill piece and any other piece near a residential area unsuitable. These areas will only grow in homes and more sooner than later will be an issue.
    In Dayton Ohio, it was growing corn in a residential area. Corn too tall, kids get lost in corn fields. Maybe kids shouldnt trespass on farm ground.
    In Nebraska it is farmers working late, spreading manure or free human waste, noise, raising livestock, and other issues. Recently read of neighborhood busy bodies bothering people in Cottage Hill with a church involved clean up walk!
    Not a way to influence locals for Christ or gain new members!

  6. Teresa Tipton on August 29th, 2013 10:27 am

    I believe what David was talking about not that livestock would be on the property but the noise inandout of the traffic from all the trucks and trailers also the intercom and the loud clapping and the clashing of the gates can become a noise issue some of these events can last up to 830 9 o’clock at night.It would be a concern for the area. We all were 4Hers growing up in Cottage Hill. there were seven of us on a 150 acre farm .Our mom and dad were 4H leaders and we showed animals at the Langley Bell CenterTallahassee Tampa and St Pete.W!e all enjoyed showing our animals and had a good time doing itsometimes you long for the old days but this land was still not large enough for what needs to be taking place nor will it be ready in a sufficient amount of time

  7. Teresa Tipton on August 28th, 2013 9:16 pm

    The map is wrong. Ezell Lane is across from the property according to maps app. The land sits to the east of my property. The access from Wilms Ditch road is private(Glenna Rd) . The problem with the property for the 4H ERS is not enough land and years in the feasibility studies ,
    engineers and developers plus cost overruns.The Bayer property is still the best for the future of the kids and the Extent ion Agency and it is turn key. Who ever buys this land will always have to deal with the wetlands. Leave it to the wildlife they know how to enjoy it best.My grandkids and I enjoy walking through the wood and listening to the sound of the whispering pines and all the animals that call this home

  8. William on August 28th, 2013 7:41 pm

    >>I’m still trying to figure out where EASTON Lane is. I know where EASTMAN is over there, but I have never seen Easton.

    (Easton is listed on the map for those that are missing it, not in the story.)

    That’s the state’s map at the top. Eastman Lane is actually over parallel to the railroad tracks. It’s on the map but not labeled.

    What they have labeled as “Eastmon” above is more where Ezell Lane is located.

    I wonder if the state’s map is wrong, or perhaps old enough names have changed over the years?

  9. Just sayin' on August 28th, 2013 6:32 pm

    I’m still trying to figure out where EASTON Lane is. I know where EASTMAN is over there, but I have never seen Easton.

  10. Sue on August 28th, 2013 6:18 pm

    Actually, David, according to the maps at the state forestry division, there is only an access road off of McKenzie Rd. and maybe an access road off of Glenna Lane…..which makes this property isolated and really inappropriate for the 4-H kids replacement property.

    After offering this property to the kids, it is now being considered by the state for possible sale……now what happens with the kids/land???

  11. kat on August 28th, 2013 6:01 pm

    to david lamb:
    I live within spittin’ distance from this parcel of land and I can tell you that having livestock on that property wouldn’t be any different than what the current residents already have. I have chickens, my neighbor has cows and horses, there are several residents on Mckenzie with horses, goats, ducks, cows, etc….
    I think we’ll be just fine.
    It’s the country…farms have animals…more farms with more animals shouldn’t ‘rile’ anyone who wants to live in the country….that’s why some of us live here. If you don’t like living near livestock then you are definately in the wrong place.

  12. david lamb on August 28th, 2013 1:38 pm

    Cottage Hill State Park has frontage road on Mckenzie. It also adjoins my sisters land on the west side. It is unsuitable for 4H because it is a rural residential land and putting lkivestock there will rile neighbors. Also it is nopt what 4h or the 4H family wants. Dr. Place and IFAS need to learn to listen to what the 4Hers want. The 3.6 million is supposed to belong to vEscambia 4H. IFAS doesnt think so!@!

  13. Southerner on August 28th, 2013 8:23 am

    Sell it. The government owns too much land.

  14. confused on August 28th, 2013 7:26 am

    So, let me get this straight… they are looking to sell land, to buy more land?

    That doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.

  15. Jane on August 28th, 2013 4:16 am

    Great, let’s get rid of the small amount of preserved land so someone can build more shopping centers and subdivisions which will simply fall into disrepair at some point and become an eyesore. Let’s give wildlife no place to live. And above all else, let’s remove the 4-H land as an option for them.

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