The property was purchased in partnership with Camp Blanding and the Bradford County School Board for a commercial truck-driving school
Jacksonville, Fla., Oct. 12, 2023 – North Florida Land Trust (NFLT), in partnership with Camp Blanding and the Bradford County School Board (BCSB), has facilitated the acquisition of property that will be the new home of the North Florida Technical College’s commercial vehicle driving school. The 230-acre property, located just outside the military installation in Bradford County and close to NFLT conservation lands, was purchased from Rayonier Inc. for over $1.8 million with funds from the Camp Blanding Army Compatible Use Buffer (ACUB) program.
Camp Blanding approached NFLT to assist with finding a property close to the military installation that could house the school after discovering they could not renew the lease for the school that has been operating on Camp Blanding property for decades. NFLT is the only organization that could facilitate the acquisition through the ACUB funding program which is designed to secure buffers around Camp Blanding. Rayonier agreed to sell the property for the school’s relocation and asked the school to consider including a curriculum for commercial logging, an industry that has seen a shortage of commercial log truck drivers.
“This project was different from what we usually do since we are in the business of conservation but as longtime partners of Camp Blanding, we stepped up to help,” said Allison DeFoor, president of NFLT. “While this land will not be conservation land, it will serve a significant need for the commercial truck driving industry and this acquisition allowed us to be good partners with Camp Blanding who we have worked with for years to conserve land around the military training center. We did get 30 acres of conservation land out of the deal as well.”
“Commercial log truck drivers are essential to maintaining healthy forest products markets,” said Rhett Rogers, senior vice president of Portfolio Management of Rayonier. “The forestry industry provides 2.5 million jobs in rural communities nationwide, and we’re enthusiastic to work together with NFLT, Camp Blanding, and the BCSB to help develop and support the next generation’s workforce.”
The property will be owned by BCSB which will lease the property to North Florida Technical College for the commercial truck driving school. Since 2014, North Florida Technical College has seen approximately 300 students graduate from its commercial truck driving program. The facility has also provided continuing education for hundreds of individuals and many organizations. The school is considered a compatible use neighbor for Camp Blanding since the noise from the training at Camp Blanding is compatible with the noise from the trucking school.
“This land donation to the Bradford County School District will allow us to not only continue our Commercial Truck Driving School but also help us expand additional programs on this new campus,” said Superintendent of Schools Will Hartley, Bradford County School District. “Because of this partnership, we can continue to help put highly certified truck drivers on the road which we all know is a critical need in our state and country at this time. We can't thank the North Florida Land Trust enough for their support and partnership in helping the Bradford County School District and North Florida Technical College fulfill this critical need.”
Matthew Corby, environmental manager for Camp Blanding said, “The Department of Military Affairs is excited to partner with NFLT and BCSB to support future development of educational opportunities within Bradford County while also continuing to secure Camp Blanding Joint Training Center’s readiness and training capability.”
About North Florida Land Trust
North Florida Land Trust is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to preserving and enhancing the quality of life by protecting North Florida's irreplaceable natural environment. Founded in 1999, NFLT has preserved tens of thousands of acres of land through the donation or purchase of land as well as conservation easements. NFLT is funded largely by private and corporate contributions and works closely with willing landowners and public agencies at all levels of government, not-for-profit partners, and foundations. For more information, visit nflt.org.