Company offers Florida a free state park, but state DEP says no
By Craig Pittman
The 4,100-acre Peaceful Horse Ranch lies along seven miles of the Peace River, its banks thick with sabal palms, cypress and live oak, its woods and wetlands full of bald eagles, gopher tortoises, wood storks, sandhill cranes and ospreys.
Three years ago, Florida officials added that land to the list of environmentally sensitive properties they wanted to acquire. But the ranch was valued at $14 million, a steep price at a time when the state Legislature had cut back money for the state's land-buying program. Then a phosphate mining company bought it.
Last year, the state caught a break. The phosphate company, as part of a legal settlement with environmental groups, agreed to hand it over to the state for free. Mosaic mining officials would even throw in $2 million for upkeep.
But to the surprise of both Mosaic and the environmentalists who sued it, the state has said no thanks.