The University was granted a partial release of a Conservation Easement on a portion of the Arboretum in 2011
The University requested and was granted a partial release of a conservation easement on campus held by the St. Johns River Water Management District. The request applied to a 7.85-acre wetland parcel that is currently part of the UCF Arboretum. This parcel was undergoing restoration due to previous easement violations that included removing native vegetation, planting gardens and other modification disallowed by the easement terms. The University requested release of the easement so that the area could be used for Academic and Research facilities, which currently are not allowed on that site due to legal restrictions of the easement. Areas for hosting facilities that support the University’s Academic and Research mission are limited on campus. Releasing the easement on the portion of Arboretum lands within the Gemini Road loop, which are ideally suited for academic facilities, would give the University flexibility to use this area for future development.
The release request included a proposal for an on-site swap, which transfered the easement to a 17-acre wetland parcel on the northeast edge of campus, which is in more pristine condition and of better ecological value than the easement release site. The future land use within the proposed release site has not been determined, but future development of the site would likely involve additional on-campus wetland mitigation.
Impacts of the easement release on the UCF Arboretum
The easement release will affect future development on a portion of the Arboretum, which was officially established on this area in 1983. The easement release will not impact the 42-acre Arboretum parcel with nature trails to the east of Gemini Blvd, or the other associated pond pine wetland parcel, which remains under conservation easement. The University continues to provide strong support for the Arboretum mission, which is to provide a comprehensive environmental and living laboratory that creates relevant, experience-based learning, urban ecology research, and opportunities for human connection with ecosystems and landscapes on campus. In addition to the Arboretum natural lands, the campus has 320-acres of conservation easements and approximately 200-acres of additional natural lands which will continue to host research, educational, and recreational opportunities for the campus and community.