Many environmental and conservationist groups are not sure about the motives behind the Mormons buying land in Florida. The purchase of approximately 2 percent of the land in Florida that encompasses about 400,000 acres is being purchased by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. This purchase makes this branch of the Mormon church one of the largest owners of private land within the state of Florida.
The land acquired was being sold by The St. Joe Co. This land is within a part of the Florida Panhandle and is not really developed. The land is mainly a rural area that is heavily wooded. A large portion of the land is close to the Gulf of Mexico. The church affiliate named AgReserves, Inc., that bought the Florida land has not been extremely forthcoming about their plans for the land. They did state there were some plans to use the land for its timber and to support agriculture.
Who owned such a vast stretch of land ? A private company started by the heirs of the famous Dupont family at one time held the most amount of land as a private owner in Florida. This company created was named St. Joe Co. and recently had the portion of land acquired by the Mormon church for sale at $565 million dollars. In the 1990's St. Joe Co. started buying raw land in the 1930's. At first the land was used for timber and in the following years a planned housing communities and in leisure resorts were created before the market in real estate market started to decline.
George Wilson a conservation consultant and prior worker for St. Joe Co. stated "These are historic changes , this is nearly 600 square miles of land in the Panhandle ... It’s a lot of great places. They are places where people hunt and fish."
— Jason R. Carroll (@JasonRobertC) November 10, 2013
The Mormons obviously are not being completely forthcoming about their plans for the land. The Mormon church overall has more than 14 million followers around the world, with 6.1 million residing in the United States. Only time will tell how the church will use the land and what its true purpose is behind the sale.
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