County to Consolidate Management of ECHO and Volusia Forever Programs.
Written by Kristen Schmutz
Belden Communications News
The ECHO and Volusia FOREVER programs are two popular, voter-approved programs with a similar purpose – preserve and enhance environmental, cultural, historic, and outdoor recreation sites and facilities. Management of both programs will now be under the same umbrella as part of a reorganization of the county’s community services department, approved Tuesday by the County Council.
Both programs are currently managed by community services, but Volusia Forever’s land management activity was run by a separate division – parks, recreation, and culture.
“I think this is an excellent move,” said Councilman Fred Lowry during Tuesday’s council meeting.
According to a release, another division in the community services department, the cooperative extension service, provides practical education in areas like agriculture and natural resources, urban and commercial horticulture, and family and consumer sciences through a partnership with the University of Florida. As part of Tuesday’s reorganization, the cooperative extension service division is being renamed the resource stewardship division – with expanded duties that include responsibility and oversight for both the ECHO and Volusia Forever programs.
Oversight of the land acquisition portion of the Volusia Forever program, which in years past had been managed by the county’s growth and resource management department, will also come under the new resource stewardship division in community services.
The newly-named division includes the land management component for the Volusia Forever program, utilizing a voter-approved tax to finance the acquisition and improvement of environmentally sensitive, water resource protection and outdoor recreation lands, managed by the county as conservation stewards in perpetuity.