Transcript

00:01Our story about geodesign starts 12 years ago in the year 2000 with some - there we go - in the year 2000...

00:11...and our story had some very unusual and interesting collaborators that led to the outcome that I'm going to tell you about.

00:22The story is really good, but in the interest of time, I'm going to tell you a little bit more about where we wound up...

00:26...and, maybe someday in the future, I can tell the - all the other stories.

00:31But, anybody guess what the common interest is between Jeb Bush, pizza, panthers, and cowboys?

00:39Any idea? Other than Jeb Bush's brother is a cowboy; Jeb was governor of the state of Florida in the year 2000...

00:49...when our process began.

00:51Panthers are one of the most critically endangered species in the country at the time that we started our process.

00:58There were estimated to be less than 100 panthers.

01:02And, of course, panthers and cowboys don't always get along together.

01:05And the pizza, I'm going to tell you about a little bit later.

01:09Cowboys do like pizza.

01:12So Rural Land Stewardship is, in essence, it's a way of incentivizing private interests to accomplish the public good...

01:23...and in our case, it's incentivizing the removal of development rights from private land...

01:31...and thereby conserving in perpetuity critical resources and allowing them to be managed privately...

01:38...at the same time trying to protect important agricultural lands for food production.

01:45And, finally, to promote sustainable growth in the appropriate locations...

01:50...and try to get all these things to sort of integrate with each other and match.

01:54And I'm going to emphasize the word incentive-based, because what you'll see in a minute is that one of the unique about this program...

02:00...is that it relies on no regulations and it relies on no public funding in order to accomplish these objectives.

02:10So the Rural Land Stewardship I'm going to talk about, and there's actually another one in Florida...

02:14...and some in the works, but the one we're going to talk about is the first one.

02:18It's 200 or 300 square miles. It sits in the northeastern corner of Collier County...

02:23...and if you know Florida, Naples and Fort Myers has been one of the fastest growing MSAs for years and years.

02:30The neighbor to the east of the RLS is what's commonly called the Western Everglades or the Big Cypress Swamp...

02:37...and it's this area is not only home to a significant agricultural production center in Florida for winter vegetables and citrus...

02:47...as well as cattle, hence the cowboys. We do have cowboys in Collier County...

02:51...but it is also the primary range of the endangered Florida panther and a whole host of other listed species, critical wetlands...

02:59...as you can imagine, I mean, on the edge of the Everglades.

03:02So it's an important area that had no plan and no idea of how it was going to be developed or conserved over time.

03:13And so, there was a whole lot of bad things happening.

03:17In 2000, there was litigation.

03:19The NGOs were suing the county. The county was going to down-zone the property, you know, and it was just a big mess.

03:26And what happened is that, through some conversations, the governor said, Look, you guys take a time out.

03:33We're going to give you three years.

03:34See if you can come up with a better plan for dealing with the future of this area...

03:39...than going to court and fighting over property rights and regulations.

03:44And so he issued a final order that said, Protect prime ag lands, protect critical wetland and upland habitat...

03:50...and then utilize some creative techniques for accommodating future growth.

03:54It didn't tell us how to do it, it didn't give any funding to do it.

03:57It just said this is what needs to be done.

04:00And so we got involved with property owners and with NGOs and the local government.

04:04We started a three-year journey to see if we could figure out a solution to this problem with the understanding that if we didn't...

04:11...the lawyers were waiting, you know, in the back row to resume the litigation and do it the old-fashioned way.

04:18So what was the threat for this area?

04:21The University of Florida did an analysis of the entire state of Florida, which would be a great topic for another geodesign...

04:28...but they said, if current trends continue out into the future, what does the state of Florida look like in 2060?

04:34And in our case, this Rural Land Stewardship area, which is 200,000 acres, this is what was forecast in 2060...

04:42...and all that red is development.

04:44So the NGOs call this "the blood map" because what was happening is that rural sprawl was bleeding all over the countryside...

04:52...it was fragmenting habitat, and the net result was going to be that in an area that had essentially no development in 2000...

05:01...by the year 2060, it was going to be fragmented into lots and lots of ranchettes and, you know...

05:07...so this was an outcome that obviously frightened a lot of people, appropriately so.

05:14And in Florida we have something called the Bert Harris Act, which says that if you're a property owner...

05:18...and you have current development rights, those are protected.

05:21The government cannot take those away from you through regulation or any way other than acquisition of your property.

05:27So this is not an unrealistic scenario at the point at which development overtakes agriculture as an economic driver.

05:36So the key concepts of stewardship, and even though we have a program that I'm going to talk about stewardship...

05:43...this is now actually a statewide program in the state of Florida, but the concepts are the same.

05:47It applies outside of urban boundaries.

05:50It's based on scientific data and market-driven economic incentives.

05:55For the participation of a private property owner, they have the choice of either participating or not...

06:00...hence, it has to be incentive-based.

06:02It requires a long-term vision.

06:04In our case, the vision now is at 2050, so it's not 250 years...

06:08...but it's certainly out there far enough where you can accomplish some big things.

06:13It has to be created through a collaborative public-private process, because everybody's got a stake in the game...

06:18...and everybody has, in many cases, competing interests, if you think about ag guys versus cattle ranchers versus environmental...

06:27...you know, agencies, you know, that all doesn't always nicely fit together so there has to be a collaborative process.

06:33The concept is that the private ownership and management of important natural resources...

06:39...is a viable alternative to public acquisition.

06:43And you have to believe that that's the case and we have some mechanisms in which we ensure that that occurs.

06:50And then the final concept is that the economics of quality growth can leverage the far-reaching public benefits.

06:58In other words, there's a value proposition to quality growth, and if you can tap into just a little sliver of that...

07:03...you can accomplish some things that you cannot accomplish any other way.

07:09So how the program works is using GIS.

07:13We created a new currency called a stewardship credit.

07:17And a stewardship credit is created out of the natural resource and agricultural values of the property...

07:23...and it's calculated using a GIS database that we put together.

07:27I wish we had the new stuff, but we were working with the old stuff back in 2000, but it did the job just perfectly.

07:33But we create regionally specific natural resource index, which I'll share in a minute.

07:40That index creates a credit value, and that credit then can be used by a property owner to eliminate their rights...

07:47...and to sell that credit to somebody who has a plan to develop a sustainable community.

07:54So you'd have sending areas and receiving areas, which is kind of a common planning idea of transfer development rights...

07:59...but there's some very big differences, and this program from the traditional TDR.

08:04So to develop a receiving area in a stewardship area, you must acquire credits.

08:09The credits actually entitle footprint as opposed to density.

08:13So it's again a little different concept here, which is what we're trying to do is shrink the footprint of development on the landscape...

08:20...thereby enabling the conservation of agriculture and critical habitat.

08:25And you have to then calibrate the credit system and by calibrating it...

08:30...you arrive at a balance between these various outcomes that you're trying to achieve.

08:36And, again, we're using GIS to calibrate it using different scenarios of index values and credits...

08:41...until you get to the mix that has the best result.

08:48So my GIS team said, "You've got to put a slide in about the software and the methodology."

08:52I'm not a GIS expert, so I'm sure this will mean a lot to many of you in the room.

08:58But what I will tell you is that GIS is not only the platform for how we put it together, but it was the therapist...

09:09...as Bran was talking about, or Jack, you were talking about this idea, that this can actually become the way of bringing people together.

09:16And what happened at the start of our process is we had people that did not trust each other, that would not talk to each other...

09:22...that would not agree on anything.

09:23You could take them out to a piece of property, and they would have three different opinions of whether that panther habitat...

09:28...or, you know, a farm field.

09:30And by spending a year and a half just building the database, we got these disparate people to start talking to each other.

09:37When we finally got them to agree on a map that they could say, yeah, that represents what's on the ground.

09:45And we did that before we started doing any of the future planning, because we had to get them to the point...

09:49...where they at least trusted each other at some level.

09:53So without a GIS platform, we never could have accomplished that.

09:58So we started building this natural resource index.

10:01And what we did is we took a lot of data, things like - in the panthers, a lot of them have been collared with the GPS collars...

10:08...so we had a lot of telemetry that we could use.

10:10We had the typical flux data. We had subsurface hydrology soils data.

10:15And what we did is we started putting all of this information together and giving it relative scores.

10:21Because what we had to do is take a whole lot of stuff and turn it into a tool.

10:25And so we took different attributes, we scored it.

10:29We would then run maps to show what that looked like as a digital representation of an environmental system.

10:36And we then calibrated it with scientists by saying, does that look right?

10:39I mean, does this match with what you think makes sense using traditional methods?

10:42And finally we got to an index that everybody said, yeah, that represents the values that we think, you know...

10:49...are close enough for a plan tool.

10:51And the nice thing about this is that it's not static in time, because natural environments change.

10:56So in our system, even though we have a map like this that scores every acre within 200,000 acres...

11:02...those scores will change depending on the final attributes at the time that a property owner decides to participate.

11:08So if a property owner can do something to improve his score over time, that's a good thing.

11:15So then we took another concept which is that if you're a private property owner and you have a panther...

11:19...or you have a Red-Cockaded Woodpecker, guess what, that devalues your property based on the regulatory paradigm.

11:26So you don't want to have that stuff.

11:28You know, you want to get rid of it.

11:29You want to clear the vegetation.

11:31So what we did is we said, Okay, we're going to turn the credit system in reverse, and the more - the higher score you get...

11:38...the more credits you're going to get under our system.

11:40So all of a sudden, property owners that saw listed species as a liability said, "Wait a minute...

11:46...if I manage my land to the good of listed species and if the wetlands stay in a pristine condition...

11:52...now I can get rewarded for that," and the reward is a monetary reward through more credits that they receive in that process.

12:01The interesting thing that came out of this is not only did this tell us what needed to be protected...

12:06...and incentivized what needed to be protected, but it also told us where there was land that...

12:11...frankly didn't rise to the level of needing the same kind of protection.

12:15So that's where we started saying, we can identify places where development in the future can go...

12:19...because if it doesn't have a score of X, it doesn't rise to a level of significance.

12:25And, so it became - that was sort of a by-product of the natural resource index.

12:33And, again, we don't have time to look at this, but we put the whole credit system on a worksheet and, basically...

12:39...it uses the natural resource index as one parameter of a credit generation.

12:45And then the other parameter is what is a property owner willing to give up.

12:49Because if you think about it, property owners have more than use of their land.

12:53They may be farming it today, but they may have development rights to, you know, build homes in the future.

12:59They might have mining rights.

13:00They might have, you know, all kinds of different things they could do.

13:03So what we gave property owners, at their request, is selectivity so that they could say...

13:08...you know what, I'm willing to eliminate the right to develop houses and, you know, mines and all that...

13:13...but I want to keep the right to farm the property, and I get a certain value for that.

13:18If I'm willing to take it all the way down to conservation, I get a different value.

13:22If I'm willing to restore the land beyond just keeping it as it is, I get a different value.

13:27And when you multiple those two - that number and that index together, that tells you how many credits you get.

13:32So, again, it gives property owners choices.

13:35It gives a variable scale, and it gives some flexibility to the implementation of the program.

13:41So these credits then become essentially the currency.

13:46So here's where the pizza comes in.

13:49So we put this program together. It took about three or four years.

13:52We put it in place. It was very innovative.

13:54Nobody had ever seen anything quite like it before.

13:56Nobody thought it was going to work.

13:57And Tom Mongahan, who founded Domino's Pizza, sold Domino's Pizza, and with all the money that he made...

14:05...he said, "I'm going to devote this to higher education for the rest of my life," specifically, higher Catholic education.

14:11He's a devout Catholic.

14:12And he says, "I'm going to build a new university somewhere in Florida."

14:15And then one of the property owners in eastern Collier County said, "Hey, you know, we've got this program.

14:20I'd like to build a new town. You've got a university.

14:23A university town might make sense. Let's use the program to build a new town."

14:28And so they got together and collaborated and the result of that was we put together a master plan...

14:35...and we created the first receiving area, which is the new town of Ave Maria.

14:38That's a picture back in '06 when it more or less opened.

14:44It's since grown somewhat from that.

14:46But, ultimately, it's a town of 5,000 acres. It will accommodate a population of 25,000 people.

14:53And it's on a footprint that's like one-tenth of what it would have been had we not had the ability to use the stewardship program...

15:00...as a result.

15:01And, by building this new town, we retired 17,000 stewardship credits, which made our environmental friends happy...

15:09...because it protected a couple of very significant panther corridors that they had been lusting after to get into protection...

15:16...because without it being in protection, they couldn't get funding for the overpasses...

15:20...which are where the panthers have to cross under roads.

15:23So anyway, it all came together, and all of a sudden we have developers, environmentalists...

15:28...on the same side of the table all saying, Yeah, let's approve this project, because there's good things that are going to happen...

15:34...that benefit not just, you know, the developer, but the environment.

15:39So that new town is very neat.

15:42It opened right as the recession went like this, so it certainly didn't grow as fast as anybody thought it would...

15:47...but it's actually now coming back pretty quickly, and it's quite a fascinating place.

15:53And we actually had to create a whole set of design guidelines to make sure that even the development...

15:57...is going to be implemented in a sustainable way so, I mean, everything from dual water systems and, you know...

16:04...we have sort of all the tricks, if you will inside the town to make it fit within that kind of a larger context of an important area.

16:14So where are we today in the program?

16:17And, again, we had a 196,000 acres of land, all in private ownership.

16:23Only 16,000 acres when we started was protected.

16:28Today, we have 55,750 acres that have been put into stewardship sending, and actually the two most critical areas...

16:37...which are these two long things you see on the west is the Camp Key strand, which connects the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary...

16:44...which is a world-class cypress preserve that's managed by the Audubon Society...

16:49...connects that all the way down to the panther preserve so we now have that whole corridor in place...

16:54...and on the east side is the Kalachuchi State Forest at the top, and it connects all the way down.

16:59So now we have a corridor, because panthers are wide-ranging species.

17:04They will typically hunt, you know, 50,000 acres, so they need to be able to move across the landscape unencumbered.

17:12So that happened in six years from the time that we put the program in place.

17:19Our adopted target for 2025 was 90,000 acres, so we're more than halfway to our 2025 goal...

17:26...and we have a 2050 goal of 134,000 acres.

17:30And that 134,000 acres is going to include not just habitat and natural resource areas, but it's going to include farms...

17:37...because we now have a credit that's specific to keeping active agriculture in place as well.

17:44So we think that we - we certainly exceeded everybody's expectations in terms of the rate at which the program is embraced...

17:53...and the reason we did that, as it was mentioned this morning, if you reward certain behaviors, then you get those behaviors.

17:59Well, what we did is we said, you know what, there isn't a demand for credits today, because there's not a real development pressure...

18:06...so we created an early-entry bonus.

18:08Said if you, the property owner, are willing to come in and put your land into a perpetual stewardship easement today...

18:14...we're going to give you extra credit for doing that, and if you commit to restoring certain parts of your land...

18:20...we'll give you extra credit for that, but that early-entry bonus had an expiration date.

18:24So we got a lot of folks that jumped in and says we're willing to do this on the idea that someday we're going to be able to use these credits...

18:32...and in the meantime, we're going to bank them.

18:34We have the one receiving area, which is Ave Maria.

18:36We have another that's sort of on the back burner right now.

18:40But so you can see the ratio right now or conservation to development is a good ratio.

18:47Ultimately, it's going to be even better.

18:50So far we've saved at least $200 million on public acquisition, and that's compared to our county's public land purchase program...

18:57...where they actually go out and buy the land here.

19:00If they had bought the land that's been protected, it would have actually been probably more than $200 million.

19:04We've had $350 million investment in private infrastructure in a rural part of Florida that really needed some economic boost...

19:13...and we've added $190 million to the tax base of Collier County just with what's in place today...

19:19...which is about, you know, 15 percent of what we expect in the future.

19:24So the, again, the concept here is that there's not enough public money to buy everything that should be protected.

19:32If you can find a way to protect land in a different way through incentives, that's a good thing.

19:40You can also use this concept, for example, if there are limited dollars but it needs to be in public ownership...

19:46...a government could buy the credits, essentially retire the credits, not develop, but retire the credits...

19:52...and the property owner still has some residual economic benefit from his land so they can buy the credits less expensively...

19:59...than if they had to buy the land in fee.

20:02And, finally, I mean, the big -ha moment here was that, all of a sudden...

20:06...environmental assets become an asset to a private property owner as opposed to a liability...

20:11...provided that they believe in the long-term stewardship of the land.

20:17So our 2050 vision for this area looks something like this.

20:24I think the total conservation between, and I'm calling ag preservation conservation.

20:29It's really not, but what we have found is that even ag lands serve an important purpose for species.

20:36For example, panthers actually like to, at night, they will go into the farm fields as part of their hunt for prey.

20:44But, anyway, 134,000 acres is our goal, a maximum of 45,000 acres of development.

20:50I don't think we're going to get there, because right now I think the trend is that densities are coming up...

20:54...so that I think the footprint can reduce, and the original 16,000 acres of public lands is still there.

21:03So going back to comparing where we would have been potentially had we not had a program like this, on the left, the blood map...

21:13...and on the right, the concept plan that has been adopted.

21:17It's certainly a good outcome.

21:18It's a big change from where we were.

21:21It's something that has been supported since it was adopted, and it's working as it was designed to work.

21:30So I'll leave you with our big idea of, in Florida is we then took the same idea and we analyzed the entire state of Florida...

21:38...which, believe it or not, is still about 70 percent rural.

21:43Once you get 10 miles from the coast on either side, you're in farmland and, you know, environmentally valuable land.

21:49So we said if you - one out of five acres of - if 20 percent of the growth, okay...

21:56...over the next 25 years was accommodated within this kind of a program...

22:01...what we would have is 2.9 million acres of land as stewardship.

22:05We would have protected 1.4 million acres of habitat without taxpayer funding...

22:10...and that's more acres that are on the Florida Forever's wish list right now...

22:14...which, by the way, they don't have the funds to buy.

22:17You would have a million-plus acres of ag that has been kept for agriculture, because ag is just as important as any other...

22:25...in fact, more important for a lot of us that like to eat, we need to have ag land...

22:29...and we would have 1.3 million people inside of these stewardship communities...

22:35...having done something by living in that community to actually help the larger landscape within which they live...

22:43...and then the footprint of growth would have been reduced somewhere between 80 and 90 percent...

22:47...over the conventional kind of development that you typically get in rural areas.

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Rural Land Stewardship

Alan Reynolds of Stantec Consulting Services discusses how he uses geodesign for land planning.

  • Recorded: Jan 24th, 2013
  • Runtime: 22:52
  • Views: 206
  • Published: Feb 12th, 2013
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