Tell Our Lawmakers that Florida’s Land and Water Conservation Needs Extend Beyond the Everglades
The Florida House and Senate have again proposed an annual budget that fails to provide adequate funding for the state’s land conservation programs. The Senate proposes to provide only $10 million for the Florida Forever land acquisition program while the House proposes $15.2 million. Neither figure comes close to matching historic annual funding levels of $300 million, despite the availability of more than $700 million courtesy of Amendment 1.
You may recall the legislature’s decision last year to ignore the wishes of the 75% of voters who passed Amendment 1 (A1) by squandering most of the 2015 A1funds on things other than land and water conservation. The current budget proposals indicate legislators might be planning to do the same thing this year. However, there is still time for the legislature to change course and reason to believe they may be willing to properly fund Florida Forever if the public speaks up.
Consider the “Legacy Bill” (HB 989 and SB 1168), which has been passed by the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Appropriate Subcommittee. It would create a dedicated funding source for Everglades restoration and give preference to projects that reduce harmful discharges to the St. Lucie Estuary and the Caloosahatchee Estuary. Funding would come from A1 and is expected to reach $200 million annually. FNPS has strongly supported Everglades restoration with a focus on the long-suffering St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries, and we consider it an appropriate use of A1 funds.
Why can’t similar A1 funding be earmarked for Florida Forever? As important as Everglades restoration is, doesn’t the rest of Florida merit similar attention? We need to tell our lawmakers that Florida’s land and water conservation needs extend far beyond the Everglades.
ACTION: Tell the following key Legislators to provide adequate funding for Florida Forever in this year’s Budget. Tell them you support:
Contact these Budget leaders immediately -- budget negotiations are in progress and moving rapidly.
Senator Budget Chair Tom Lee (R)
Senate President Andy Gardiner (R)
Senate President-Elect Joe Negron (R)
House Budget Chair Richard Corcoran (R)
House Speaker Steve Crisafulli (R)
Natural Resource Budget Chair Ben Albritton (R)
Senate Majority Leader Bill Galvano
Rep. Jose Oliva (R)
Raising an Issue
Types of Issues Addressed by FNPS
- General areas considered to be of statewide FNPS significance
- Any Florida legislative action that affects our state environmental land acquisition program known as Florida Forever, which includes Florida Communities Trust and/or any other state agency funded through Florida Forever (DEP). This includes, but is not limited to, any legislation affecting funding of the program. It also includes the urgent need to fund the Florida Forever program.
- All state and local land acquisition efforts for preservation and conservation.
- Any statewide policy changes that enhance improve or further natural resource system protection within recognized preserves and/or reserve or state park refuge.
- Development issues that are regional or have statewide significance in that they affect a change in Florida policy towards land acquisition, natural resource systems or waters of the state, but only if the issue clearly relates to the FNPS mission to preserve, conserve and restore native plants and native plant communities.
- Any state legislative, state agency or state university action that would affect the viability (or lack thereof) of native plants and native plant communities. This includes, but is not limited to, state policy on exotic invasive species, water conservation, listed plant species, and cataloging of native plant communities.
General areas considered not to be of statewide significance include
- Issues that are primarily related to managing the way a local jurisdiction grows or the methods it uses to plan growth. Unless it can be shown to meet criteria number four in the previous section.
- Issues that are primarily transportation related unless the issue is of at least regional significance and would impact an established preserve/reserve/state park refuge/or a functional ecologically sensitive ecosystem.
- Issues that involve local jurisdictional ordinances or land development codes.