Oppose bad bill SB 2508 now
We need your help NOW to help convince the Florida Legislature that FLORIDA DOES NOT NEED A COMPLETE MAKE-OVER OF OUR IMMENSELY SUCCESSFUL LAND CONSERVATION PROGRAMS! Senate Bill 2508 would elevate the protection of agricultural land over protection of the most environmentally significant lands that still remain unprotected in Florida. It would also open the door to “double-dipping” by landowners who sell the state a conservation easement over their land, and then move to convert that land into a for-profit mitigation bank. And when it comes to Everglades Restoration, SB 2508 would elevate the water needs of Big Sugar over those of the people of South Florida. We need to raise our collective voices to oppose this counter-productive and unfair legislation.
We need to strongly oppose SB 2508 because it will:
- Replace the Florida Forever Program’s rigorous science-based approach to setting land conservation priorities with a process designed to keep agricultural lands in production! The Rural and Family Lands Program is no substitute for the Florida Forever Program. RFL was designed to purchase conservation easements over privately owned forests and ranches, and it is a valuable complement to Florida Forever because the working lands it keeps in production sometimes have supplemental habitat value for native plants and wildlife, help maintain connectivity within wildlife corridors, and buffer more environmentally sensitive areas. But Florida Forever has been, and should remain, Florida’s principal land conservation program.
Reduce the levels of transparency and accountability that have made Florida’s land conservation efforts so successful! Proposed Florida Forever land purchases are vetted by the Acquisition and Restoration Council - a panel of experienced environmental professionals – before being considered for approval by the Governor and Cabinet. Proposed RFL purchases do not undergo such review and vetting. Why should we allow less oversight of such important decisions?
Allow landowners to “double-dip” by essentially being paid twice to protect the same piece of land! SB 2508 would allow a landowner to be paid for an RFL conservation easement that protects their land from development, and then establish a for-profit mitigation bank that would pay them for protecting their land from development – AGAIN! That is no way to run a land conservation program!
Give utilities expedited review of wetland permits if the project serves a “public purpose” without defining what qualifies as a public purpose. This creates a “fox guarding the henhouse” protection standard for wetland destruction.
Give priority to the water needs of Big Sugar over those of south Florida residents. When water is in short supply, and someone needs to make do with less – it will not be Big Sugar and the other agricultural interests. Why shouldn’t water conservation require a shared sacrifice?
SB 2508 is an assault on the principles that have made land conservation in Florida such a success. And it threatens important elements of Everglades restoration. Please contact your elected members of the legislature – both in the House of Representatives and the Senate – and ask them to oppose passage of SB 2508. You can find contact information for your legislators at using the following links. It is important that you not delay. This bill is in the last stages of review right now!