(1) It is the intent of the Legislature to conserve and protect the natural resources and scenic beauty of the Oklawaha River Valley and all lands and interests formerly acquired by the state or Federal Government for construction and operation of the Cross Florida Barge Canal. It is the finding of the Legislature that these areas have a significant impact upon environmental and recreational resources of statewide importance and that public ownership of and access to such areas are necessary and desirable to protect the health, welfare, safety, and quality of life of the residents of this state and to implement s. 7, Art. II of the State Constitution. It is further the finding of the Legislature that retention of ownership and control of the majority of the lands by the state and the ownership and control of additional portions by the Federal Government as part of the Ocala National Forest will properly protect and conserve the natural resources and scenic beauty of Florida, enhance recreational opportunities, and be in the public interest. To achieve these goals, the Legislature hereby creates the Cross Florida Greenways State Recreation and Conservation Area.
(2) The department is authorized to transfer for consideration ownership of all lands or interests in lands previously owned by the canal authority contained within the existing boundary of the Ocala National Forest and any extension of the boundary of the Ocala National Forest in Putnam County to the United States Department of Agriculture for the purpose of inclusion in the Ocala National Forest.
(3) The Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund may acquire by purchase, exchange of other state lands, or the exercise of the power of eminent domain the fee title to lands acquired in less-than-fee title and to privately owned lands that break the continuity of publicly owned lands within the original canal corridor as specified in the University Planning Team Greenway Management Plan along the canal route, using canal authority assets transferred to the department or using state, local, or federal funds dedicated to acquiring lands for conservation and recreation. The Legislature finds that such exercise of the power of eminent domain to accomplish the purposes of this section is necessary and for a public purpose. Such power of eminent domain must be exercised pursuant to chapter 73.
(4) Lands transferred pursuant to this section by the department may reserve existing road rights-of-way.