Throughout his career, Dean has carried a deep passion for Florida land and conservation easements. During his time in the US Senate as Agricultural Liaison, Special Assistant, and Director of External Affairs, he fought for private property rights in tandem with the conservation of the Florida natural ecosystem.
He wrote the legislation to establish the Green Swamp Land Authority, the first state entity to purchase development rights (PDR) from landowners. The legislation was truly a pioneering concept with no formal program in place within the State at the time. It was established to determine if the concept of PDRs would be accepted by landowners and adopted by government agencies. The pilot program was limited to the geography of The Green Swamp, a 322,690-acre area identified by the State of Florida as an Area of Critical State Concern.
The concept has rebranded to the purchase of conservation easements and, through the years, has become widely accepted and adopted by landowners. It has proven to be an effective tool to preserve land by local, state, and federal agencies.
For nearly 30 years, Mr. Saunders has represented landowners to secure conservation easements. Conservation easements allow the landowner to sell the developmental rights of their property to the State or a qualified agency and keep the property in natural or working agricultural conditions while maintaining ownership of the land. The conservation easement guides the property’s use and protects it in perpetuity. Conservation easements are cost-effective for taxpayers because it costs less money to buy rights than the property, and the state doesn’t have to pay to manage the land.
His drive and passion is reflected in the production of the annual real estate Lay of the Land Conference and his innovative work through the Lay of the Land Market Report. The report serves as the primary source for verified Florida land sales and values for specific land property types.