looks like property owners could get the submerged lands if this passes:
South Florida Sun-Sentinel.com
Waterfront property owners win
February 4, 2012
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What better way to sneak through a bill than to give it a title like "Ordinary High-Water Mark for Navigable, Nontidal Waterbodies?"
Bored yet? You shouldn't be. Because this bill should more aptly be named "The Great Florida Public Land Giveaway."
Yep. A pair of bills in the state Legislature would give possibly a half-million acres of state land to some lucky waterfront property owners.
Florida has owned submerged lands since it became a state in 1845. Currently, the state's ownership is below what's known as the ordinary high-water mark. Private property begins above that. In essence, these bills would change that high-water mark from the waterway's reach during an ordinary wet season to a drier time of the year.
Anyone who has spent time in or around Florida's rivers and lakes knows how startling the shoreline changes between wet and dry seasons. Islands appear and disappear. Shorelines widen and narrow. Creeks dry up.
The differences are accentuated by Florida's flat geography, which means even a modest drop in water levels — just a few inches — can expose big chunks of shore.
Under these bills, that shore would effectively revert from public ownership to private ownership, without compensating the public. Estimates of the loss of public land range from 100,000 acres to 500,000 acres, an area about the size of the Smoky Mountains National Park. (The issue doesn't apply to beaches and waterways whose levels are influenced by tides.)
It's a windfall for property owners, but a rotten deal for hunters, kayakers and fishermen who lose access to public recreation areas. A kayaker who pulls her boat onto a riverbank during the dry season might face an angry property owner accusing her of trespassing. And woe to the hunter who gets caught with a firearm on public-turned-private property — he might get charged with a felony.
There's a bonus for waterfront property owners. Currently, if they want to use submerged public property for development they have to lease submerged property from the state. But not if this bill passes.
And this from a Legislature that wants to run the state like a business, as if successful businesses are in the habit of giving away their assets.
The Legislature tried this same stunt about 10 years ago, prompting then-Attorney General Bob Butterworth to call it the year's "dumbest" legislation.
We're not sure it rises to that level this year, but it's a contender.