Florida’s 500-year (Almost) Cattle History

Historians generally agree that Florida – and United States – cattle ranching got its start with Ponce de Leon in 1521. The Spanish explorer and conquistador brought horses and seven Andalusian cattle to Florida that year, according to a University of South Florida website, Florida Center for Instructional Technology (FCIT). Some scholars believe those first…

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Crackers and the Open Range – Part of Florida’s Cattle History

CRACKERS Most Floridians who’ve been around a while have heard people refer to “crackers,” a term that most agree described Florida’s early cattlemen. “Florida’s old-time cowboys had a unique way of herding cattle,” reports the University of South Florida website, Florida Center for Instructional Technology (FCIT). “They used 10- to 12-foot-long whips made of braided…

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1920’s Land Boom and Bust

Florida’s Land Boom of the 1920s Turning $1,700 into $300,000, at Least for a While An elderly man in Pinellas County spent his life savings of $1,700 in the early 1920s on a piece of local property. He was just one of thousands of Americans participating in the great Florida land boom. But his story…

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New Smyrna Beach: Greek Name, but Settled by Minorcans

New Smyrna Beach on Florida’s northeast coast today draws tourists and water sports enthusiasts to the Atlantic Ocean south of the more populous and hectic Daytona Beach area. The paradoxically named city got its start as a British agricultural colony approximately two-and-a-half centuries ago. Soon after taking control of Florida from Spain in 1863, the…

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The Appalachians in Florida?

Much of the sand in the Sunshine State’s major geographic regions originated elsewhere. The Appalachian Mountains extend from Alabama to New York; no part of the range is in Florida. But much of the Appalachian’s sediment is in the Sunshine State, according to the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF-IFAS) website,…

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Transitional Land: Creating Housing for a Growing Population

Florida became the third most populous state in the country near the end of 2014, with an estimated population of 19.9 million. Growth is expected to continue; a University of Florida publication projected the state’s population growth will average 278,000 per year by the end of this decade. New residents need housing provided by developers…

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Half of Florida is Timberland

Forest covers right at half of Florida’s 34.23 million acres of land, and 71 percent of that timberland is privately owned, according to the Florida Forestry Association. Most Florida timberland in Florida is north of Orlando, and most counties in the northern half of the state are at least 50 percent forested. The Forestry Association…

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Recreation Land: Having Fun and Parking Money

Millions of acres in Florida are privately owned recreation lands where owners or lessees hunt, fish, ride four-wheelers – whatever they want to do for fun out in the woods. Recreation land is usually partially pastureland; having pasture on the property lets the owners obtain an agricultural tax classification because cattle are raised on the…

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Florida Farmland and Cropland over the Millennia

Crops have been produced in Florida for thousands of years. Squashes and gourds were probably grown in the late Archaic period (3,000 to 1,000 B.C.), according to “The New History of Florida.” The book by the University Press of Florida adds that it was probably 750 A.D. or later before corn began to be cultivated…

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Land Conservation

Land conservation is a priority for a majority of Floridians, as evidenced in November 2014 by voter passage of the “Florida Water and Land Conservation Initiative.” The initiative, also known as Amendment 1, provides funds to acquire and manage conservation lands. Landowners are also concerned about land conservation. A growing number of them are considering…

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