For more than 60 years, Deseret Ranch has contributed to the economy, environment and culture of Central Florida. Deseret was founded when the area was still rural, long before it became known for everything from tourist travel to space travel. Over the last half century, Central Florida has grown up around us.
Today at Deseret Ranch we find ourselves just a few miles from the Orlando International Airport, the largest destination airport in the US, and from “Medical City,” one of the country’s emerging biomedical and life science clusters. The Ranch is located just a few more miles from downtown Orlando and is within an hour of the Space Coast, Florida’s famous beaches, and world-renowned attractions. Florida’s growth arrived at our doorstep decades ago, and our property is still in the path of growth and is surrounded by some of the fastest growing communities in the US. Deseret fills the gap in one of the country’s major economic regions.
Florida will continue to grow – the only question is how. Deseret occupies a key location in the region and has been a strong proponent of long-range planning. Wise planning will result in more efficient land use, better economic development, preservation of key natural areas, and the perpetuation of agriculture for generations to come.
It is almost certain that this 60-year growth in Florida will continue – the only question is how. We believe that long-term visioning and planning are critical to the future of Florida. Failure to plan for growth does not prevent growth; it just means the same amount of growth but with weaker economic development, more fragmented natural areas, costlier infrastructure, more traffic congestion, and the deterioration of safe and secure communities.
Over the years, we at Deseret have also felt some of the impacts of poor planning. Groundwater and surface water have been taken from Ranch property to supply cities, with more planned withdrawals in the future. Utility lines and several major roads have crisscrossed the Ranch. Three-thousand acres of prime pasture ground were condemned for a county landfill. These impacts, and many others, significantly affect the viability of our agricultural operation. At the same time, we recognize that what affects Deseret Ranch also often affects the region, and we consequently feel a responsibility to be involved in regional discussions about transportation, environmental protection, water supply and quality, and land use planning. We plan on remaining in Central Florida for another 60 years and beyond, and we believe our interests align closely with those of the region.
Deseret has long advocated for thoughtful, comprehensive, long-range planning efforts. We were an early partner in the “myregion.org” visioning process that looked at the future of the region. Deseret supported a regional values study and regional environmental planning efforts, such as Naturally Central Florida. Deseret has been a contributing partner to other visioning processes and participated in forums discussing important regional topics. We also recently supported transportation studies to analyze how best to connect regional economic and population centers in the next 20 to 50 years.
Given its key location between Orlando and the Space Coast, the Ranch will play an important role in the future of Central Florida. Here at Deseret Ranch we are fully committed to preserving and promoting the things we all love about Central Florida. We have resisted many offers to sell off piecemeal portions of the Ranch for over 60 years. We will work with other regional stewards in planning the ways the Ranch will fulfill the public need for wisely planned growth. The result will accommodate some of the region’s growth on less land, connect important regional economic centers and create jobs, preserve key natural areas, and provide wonderful communities, all while continuing agriculture throughout the foreseeable future.