Action Alerts

Special Session Is A Special Opportunity to Contact Your Legislators

May 11, 2015

The breather between the end of the regular session, and the beginning of the Special Session projected to begin on June 1, provides an unusual opportunity for us to contact our legislators while they are home and working out of their local offices. Let’s seize that opportunity!

We worked throughout the session to convince the legislature that the Florida Forever land acquisition program deserves much more funding than the pittance they have budgeted to this stage. The primary task of the Special Session is to finalize a budget, so we still have time to convince them to honor the actual wishes of the voters when they passed Amendment 1.

Many of our lawmakers continue to advance inaccurate arguments that we shouldn’t buy any more land because we don’t properly manage what we already own – or the even more outrageous position that we’ve already protected enough land through public ownership. We’ve sent them a letter on your behalf that refutes their wrong-headed position. You can download a copy from our website at http://fnps.org/news/alerts/LetterToLegislature .

Please phone or email your local Representative and Senator and tell them you'd lik to schedule a 5-minute appointment to discuss what you had in mind when you voted “yes!” on Amendment 1. You can find contact information for your senator at www.flsenate.gov and for your representative at www.myfloridahouse.gov . Download a copy of our letter before you contact them, using the link above, to arm yourself with facts and other information that refute their bogus arguments.

They are also likely to tell you about all the funds they have already budgeted for “land conservation”.  But that’s just a shameless shell game, like the one they used after Florida voters approved the lottery to provide additional funding for education. Don’t allow the intent of Amendment 1 to be corrupted in the same way. Ask them to explain how there is actually LESS funding for conservation and environmental protection now than there was last year, given that Amendment 1 is providing $740 million ADDITIONAL dollars to supplement the pre-existing sources. It’s because they are robbing those pre-existing sources to spend that funding elsewhere. At the very end of this Alert we have provided a summary of proposed spending as it now stands. You’ll see there is VERY little for actual Florida Forever acquisitions. We will post this same summary on the web page so you can reference it there.

Please tell them to restore Florida Forever funding to at least $150 million for next year – still only half of historic levels! - and tell them to allow those funds to be used for fee-title purchases so the public will be able to actually access those lands in the future. They currently propose to limit land purchases to conservation easements. Easements are an important tool for conservation, but so are purchases that put land into actual public ownership.

If your representative or senator is listed below, it’s ESPECIALLY important for you to contact them as soon as possible. Phone or email their office and ask for that 5-minute appointment so you can explain your position and tell them to support Florida Forever. If your legislator(s) isn’t on the list below, then contact your own, but consider contacting at least one of those on the list below in addition to your own.

Thanks for helping FNPS pursue our mission. We are making a difference.

Florida House of Representatives:

Rep. Albritton: (863) 534-0073

Rep. Boyd: (941) 708-4968

Rep. Caldwell: (239) 694-0161

Rep. Corcoran: (813) 792-5177

Rep. Pilon: (941) 955-8077

Florida Senate:

Sen. Benacquisto: (239) 338-2570

Sen. Presiden Gardiner: (407) 428-5800

Sen. Latvala: (727) 793-2797

Sen. Lee: (813) 653-7061

Sen. Negron: (772) 219-1665

Actual Proposed Spending on Florida Forever Land Acquisition in FY 2015-16 in the General Appropriations Acts

House Bill 5001

$25 M for Rural and Family Lands Program to purchase less-than-fee property interests in farm, forest and ranchlands

$100 M to the water management districts for water resource development projects, which is defined in s. 373.019 (24) as “ the formulation and implementation of regional water resource management strategies, including the collection and evaluation of surface water and groundwater data; structural and nonstructural programs to protect and manage water resources; the development of regional water resource implementation programs; the construction, operation, and maintenance of major public works facilities to provide for flood control, surface and underground water storage, and groundwater recharge augmentation; and related technical assistance to local governments and to government-owned and privately owned water utilities.”

$50 M for land acquisitions and capital projects that contribute to restoration of Priority Florida Springs

$20 M for land acquisition specifically for Kissimmee River restoration/re-construction

$10 M for land acquisitions that are only less-than-fee, for partnerships in which the state’s portion of the acquisition cost is no more than 50 percent, or for conservation lands needed for military buffering

Total for true Florida Forever land acquisition: $11 million, (amount if all Florida Forever springs projects were funded, which would come from the $50 million for springs + $10 million for less-than-fee category Florida Forever projects that meet 50% match/military criteria = $21 million

Senate Bill 2500

$17 M for land acquisition under Florida Forever, with no additional criteria such as only less-than-fee, military buffering of 50% match requirement

$20 M for land acquisition specifically for Kissimmee River restoration/re-construction

$5 M to S. Florida WMD for disbursed water storage projects (non-acquisition)

$10 M for land acquisitions relating to Florida Springs

Total for true Florida Forever land acquisition: $17 million + $10 million for springs land acquisition (Florida Forever springs projects) = $27 million

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.