Conservation Land Acquisition & Management (CLAM)
The Nassau County Conservation Land Acquisition and Management (CLAM) program was created to preserve and conserve the county’s natural, historic, and working lands resources by identifying, ranking, and assessing conservation lands for acquisition and management.
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BACKGROUND INFORMATION ON THE CLAM PROGRAM
In 2020 Nassau County was behind the state's average for counties in terms of natural resource protections, having only preserved 7% of their landmass, as compared to a statewide average of 29%. Nassau County is also facing new and significant development threats, transforming from a mostly rural county to a growth center in the Northeast Florida region. However, the County has a bounty of natural resources, including wild and scenic waterways like the St. Marys, Nassau, and Bells Rivers; a unique barrier island; and large tracts of timberland.
To begin the process of preserving and conserving the county's natural, historic, and working lands resources, the County Commission directed Planning Staff to develop a plan to conserve and manage conservation lands. This plan was developed by County Staff with the assistance of the North Florida Land Trust (NFLT), a 501(c) non-profit operating in Nassau County and throughout North Florida. NFLT was retained by the county to bring their experience in the identification and acquisition of conservation resources to assist in the creation of a countywide Conservation Lands Acquisition and Management (CLAM) program. NFLT utilized their experience in strategic conservation planning to develop for the county a plan to identify, rank, and assess conservation lands for acquisition and management. The final CLAM is a manual of operations for the administration and management of the CLAM program.
An essential tool of the CLAM program is the CLAM Resource Ranking Map, a GIS (Geographic Information Systems)-based plan developed to create, analyze, and manipulate geographic information, known as data layers. These data layers are maps of resources which can be displayed as they overlap and interact, and where different statistical and analytical processes can be applied to better understand a landscape filled with multiple interacting resources. Nineteen different data layers were selected for consideration, representing different potential conservation resources. The different data layers all relate to one of the four most common considerations for acquiring conservation land: Water Issues, Habitat and Species Protections, Working Lands, Outdoor Recreation and Quality of Life. This map is used to analyze properties being considered for acquisition.
ADOPTION OF THE CLAM
The CLAM was adopted by the Board of County Commissioners on January 25, 2021. The CLAM Committee was appointed in May 2021. The Committee's tasks include reviewing and ranking nominated properties, recommending potential acquisitions, reviewing management plans, and reviewing the monitoring and enforcement of conservation easements.
During the initial CLAM nomination period, July 24, 2021 through January 31, 2022, over 750 parcels were nominated for inclusion in the CLAM program. Staff completed its evaluation of the nominations and presented its ranking recommendations to the CLAM Committee on May 19, 2022. A Committee meeting was held on July 6th to discuss staff’s recommendations. At the direction of the Committee, staff recommendations were revised. Revised recommendations were presented to the Committee on August 2, 2022. Following the August 2nd Committee meeting, Committee members were asked to individually rank each project. Project totals were calculated and the final ranking was presented at the August 25th Committee meeting. At that meeting, the Committee made a recommendation to approve the ranking and directed staff to forward the recommendation to the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) for consideration of approval. The BOCC approved the Committee's final ranking on September 26, 2022 via Resolution No. 2022-179. A list of approved and priority projects for CLAM can be found here.
At the May 23, 2022 meeting, the Board of County Commissioners approved Resolution No. 2022-108, authorizing placement of a referendum on the ballot for the November 2022 election for residents to vote on whether the County should issue up to $30 million in general obligation bonds for a Conservation Land Acquisition and Management Program. 68% of voters voted in favor of the referendum.
CLAM Committee Agenda/Minutes
CLAM nominations are accepted on a rolling basis. On January 31st of each year, new nominations received during the previous year are evaluated for ranking determinations. CLAM nomination forms can be found by clicking the link below.