Rural Fla. counties vote no for conservation amendment

Land, conversation amendment got 75 percent of statewide vote


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The land and conservation amendment on last week's ballot got an unprecedented 75 percent of the statewide vote, but voters in rural counties were more likely to say no.

Lafayette County's population density is just 16 people per square mile. It is one of two counties where more people voted against land conservation than for it.

"Because they thought it would impinge on their property rights," said Linda Partney, a Yes on 1 voter.

Not only did a majority of people vote no on Amendment 1, it was heck no. More people in the county voted for marijuana than land conservation.

RELATED: Amendment 1 passes; Now what?

"I think they are buying up too much land as it is," said Shirley Walker, who is retired. "I mean, it's getting to where they're buying more land and we're having to pay more taxes because there's not taxes on the land they buy."

Fishing guide Tom Caldwell agrees.

"I'm a captain and guide, and everything's fine on that," said Caldwell.

"So you don't think we need to spend more money?" reporter Mike Vasilinda asked.

"No, I actually think it's taking care of itself," Caldwell said.

The trend was similar across the state. While more than half the voters in Lafayette and Holmes counties voted no, other rural areas voted far less overwhelmingly than the urban areas.

Will Abberger, of the Yes on 1 Campaign, said rural counties just aren't seeing the sprawl that everyone else is seeing.

"Florida adds 700 new residents everyday, Mike, and those new residents are putting pressure on our water and land resources," said Abberger. "Folks in the more rural parts of the state are not. They don't wake up to that everyday and see those changes in their community."

The amendment allowing money to be set aside for conservation takes effect in January. The first funding should be available in July.

Gov. Rick Scott won Lafayette County with 53 percent of the vote. The marijuana vote got 49 percent while land conservation got just 47 percent.