(1) The acquisition of the state’s portion of the Babcock Crescent B Ranch by the Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund is a conservation acquisition under the Florida Forever program created in s. 259.105, with a goal of sustaining the ecological and economic integrity of the property being acquired while allowing the business of the ranch to operate and prosper.
(2) The Babcock Crescent B Ranch constitutes a unique land mass that has significant scientific, cultural, historical, recreational, ecological, wildlife, fisheries, and productive values. The property is part of a potential greenway of undeveloped land extending from Lake Okeechobee to the east and Charlotte Harbor to the west. The natural beauty and abundant resources of the ranch provide numerous public recreational opportunities such as hiking, fishing, camping, horseback riding, and hunting.
(3) The Legislature recognizes that the acquisition of the state’s portion of the Babcock Crescent B Ranch represents a unique opportunity to assist in preserving the largest private and undeveloped single-ownership tract of land in Charlotte County. The Legislature further recognizes Lee County as a partner in the acquisition of the ranch.
(4) This section authorizes the acquisition of the state’s portion of the Babcock Crescent B Ranch in order to protect and preserve for future generations the scientific, scenic, historic, and natural values of the ranch, including rivers and ecosystems; to protect and preserve the archaeological, geological, and cultural resources of the ranch; to provide for species recovery; and to provide opportunities for public recreation.
(5) The Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services shall be the lead managing agencies responsible for the management of Babcock Crescent B Ranch.
(6) In addition to distributions authorized under s. 259.105(3), the Department of Environmental Protection is authorized to distribute $310 million in revenues from the Florida Forever Trust Fund. This distribution shall represent payment in full for the portion of the Babcock Crescent B Ranch to be acquired by the state under this section.
(7) As used in this section, the term “state’s portion of the Babcock Crescent B Ranch” comprises those lands to be conveyed by special warranty deed to the Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund under the provisions of the agreement for sale and purchase executed by the Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund, the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and the participating local government, as purchaser, and MSKP, III, a Florida corporation, as seller.