South Florida's growth is projected to span south of Lake Okeechobee.

South &;s growth is forecast to span area south of Lake Okeechobee.

Florida in 2070 will be a state brimming with almost 34 million residents &; 70 percent bigger than current, but with many of the same growth problems, a statewide management organization concludes in a report released today.

Balancing development against nature preserves and farmland will be a recurring theme of the next half-century, 1000 Friends of Florida says in its Florida 2070 report.

But the organization maintains that through smart growth management, there is a way to lower the trajectory Florida is on, which puts on course to having one-third of the state developed, up from less than 19 percent during the report&8217;s 2010 baseline year.

If  many residents are already feeling the pressure of crowded roads, neighborhoods and schools, there is certainly more to come, the report shows.

But 1000 Friends argues that by relying on a more compact pattern of development and increasing the state&8217;s protected land holdings, the percentage of Florida under development can be held to 28 percent in 2070.

South Florida, so long home to rapid growth, is projected as slowing in coming years, relative to the rest of the state.

Within South Florida, the most dramatic potential changes in 2070 can be seen in the areas south of Lake Okeechobee, including in Palm Beach, Hendry and Glades counties, as well as in Lee and Collier counties, the report finds.

Still, land devoted to cities and suburbia in the region should cap at 30 percent of the region &8212; below the state&8217;s 34 percent average, analysts said.

The area of most overwhelming growth in the next half-century? Central Florida.

By 2070, almost half the region from Tampa to Daytona Beach will be devoted to roads, homes, and the other trappings of development, 1,000 Friends forecasts.





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