Environmental Conservation

We don’t have to choose between the environment and economic opportunity.

Envision Alachua will:

  • Place 88% (including 24,539 new acres) of Weyerhaeuser's land in permanent conservation, ensuring that land is never developed. Just 6% (3,381 acres) will be converted to Employment-Oriented Mixed Use (EOMU) to be developed as jobs centers over 50 years, and 4% (1,962 acres) will remain designated as land use Rural/Agriculture.
  • Establish a 3,538-acre wildlife corridor and buffer along the Lochloosa Creek system that is at least 2,000 feet wide. The corridor will designated Preservation, removing the rights for agriculture and forestry on that land. The land will be managed as a natural resource only.
  • Establish a new water ethic that reduces water usage by 50%.

Envision Alachua’s proposed conservation and preservation lands were designated to provide linkages to regional and statewide wildlife, habitat and green corridors and lands already in conservation. This will also help complete the “Emerald Necklace” around Gainesville. See the maps below (click on each to enlarge) or download them here.

Map of Regional Landscape Linkages through Proposed Envision Alachua Sector Plan Conservation Map of Regional Landscape Linkages through Proposed Envision Alachua Sector Plan Conservation Map of Regional Landscape Linkages through Proposed Envision Alachua Sector Plan Conservation

Protecting Our Water and Wetlands

Expert analysis and community input shaped the forward-thinking Envision Alachua Sector Plan (EASP), including a new water ethic that could improve development practices state-wide. The EASP has a plan designed to reduce water consumption within the development by 50 percent of current standards.

Will these measures make a difference? Yes, says Dr. Pierce Jones, the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) extension program leader for energy programs. Dr. Jones and his team studied 30 existing residential developments in Alachua County and found, based on current water use in those developments, eliminating residential irrigation alone would almost achieve the 50 percent reduction. And because Envision Alachua includes other housing options, like apartment complexes and condominiums, the UF team concluded the 50 percent goal is "very achievable."

It's in the Plan!

  • Requiring Florida Friendly landscaping with native species preference
  • Limiting wells within the developed land strictly to those that are part of a utility system
  • Banning use of drinking and reclaimed water for residential irrigation
  • Priority uses for reclaimed water will be 1) the environment, 2) industry, and 3) agriculture

Water Management Technical Advisory Panel

To help ensure the water management strategy was effective and forward thinking, Weyerhaeuser convened a group of professionals with water expertise, the Envision Alachua Water Management Technical Advisory Panel, to comment on the water strategy. They were asked:

  • Are the assumptions in the water strategy reasonable?
  • Are the results and recommendations in the plan reasonable?
  • Do the proposed solutions appropriately address the key issues?
  • Are there solutions which have not yet been considered?
  • Is there additional data, analysis or research needed?

The group met in mid-March 2014 and discussed these basic questions. Their comments and suggestions will help Weyerhaeuser continue to refine and improve the water strategy.

The Envision Alachua Water Management Panel Technical Advisory Panel’s summary report can be read and downloaded here.

The result of both the water advisory panel and the water team formed the basis for a new water ethic that shaped the policies of the EASP. A resource study was conducted by UF/IFAS’s Program for Resource Efficient Communities to determine if the EASP policies can achieve the goal of reducing water consumption by 50-percent per person for today’s standards, established by the Envision Alachua Task Force during Phase I. In that study, Dr. Pierce Jones and his team concluded that the EASP policies can help realize that water conservation goal. Dr. Jones is also researching where else in the U.S. and world are water leadership policies and goals as significant as those within the EASP.

Links to the water study reports completed by Dr. Jones and the UF/IFAS team are below.

A Regional Study of Measured and Modeled Key Urban Development Impacts
Establishing Water Consumption Baseline for Alachua County

related videos

Alan Front Video – Part 1

Land Conservation in America, Alan Front, Conservation Pathways, former Senior Vice President with Trust for Public Lands
Part 1 | Part 2


Tour of Envision Alachua Sector Plan SR 20 Jobs Center with Greg Galpin, Senior Manager, Planning – Weyerhaeuser and Dr. Mike Dennis, Environmental Consultant/President – Breedlove, Dennis and Associates
Watch now