Public Policy

No Funding for Land Conservation is a Legislative Insult to Voters

March 22, 2015

Are you one of the 4.2 million voters who supported Amendment 1 in the last election? If so, did you believe a primary purpose of the funding was to finance the purchase of additional natural areas as a way to help protect our water resources, wildlife, rivers, beaches and scenic vistas? The Florida legislature doesn’t believe that is what voters actually had in mind when 75% of them voted for passage of Amendment 1.

How else to explain House and Senate budgets that include NOTHING for the purchase of land through the Florida Forever Program? If you find that hard to believe and consider it an insult to your intelligence, then you need to set them straight! The Senate budget currently proposes to allocate $2 million to purchase conservation easements. The more “generous” House budget would spend $10 million to purchase conservation easements. Neither chamber proposes to allocate ANYTHING for the purchase of lands that would add to our system of state parks, state forests and wildlife management areas.

Don’t be fooled by smoke and mirrors, like the proposed allocation of $20 million to purchase lands along the Kissimmee River in order to complete restoration of the river. It’s a good project that has been in progress for years and deserves to be funded. But it has nothing to do with Florida Forever.

Amendment 1 requires, in simple-to-understand language, that 33% of annual documentary stamp tax revenues must be dedicated to land and water conservation. Most of us interpreted that to mean a substantial amount of the funding would support the protection of natural areas through the purchase of land. Those revenues are projected to total well over $700 million in the first year alone. Both the Senate and House propose to spend millions to cover existing agency operating costs and fund expensive water supply projects, and NOTHING for Florida Forever.

If you are insulted by the Legislature’s unwillingness to heed the will of the voters, which was clearly expressed by the overwhelming passage of Amendment 1, please contact the House and Senate leadership this week and tell them so. Contact information is provided below. If you can, please take the time to contact your own representative and senator as well. Tell them:

• The first year of Amendment 1 spending should allocate at least $350 million for the acquisition of approved Florida Forever projects. That amounts to less than half of first-year revenues!

• The time for debating whether the people of Florida support additional land purchases has passed. You knew what you were voting for when you voted to pass Amendment 1.

• Amendment 1 was called the Water and Land Legacy Amendment for a reason. Sewage treatment plants and water supply projects are important, but they aren’t the legacy for future generations that we had in mind on election day. Rivers and springs clean enough for swimming and fishing; parks and forests where people can recreate and enjoy nature; beaches where our children can play. THAT is the kind of legacy we want to enjoy for ourselves and leave for those who come after us.

Top Priority Contacts

Senate Senate President Andy Gardiner (Orlando) Capitol: (850) 487-5229 District: (407) 428-5800 Email:

Senate Budget Chairman Tom Lee (Brandon) Capitol: (850) 487-5024 District: (813) 653-7061 Email:

Senate General Government Appropriations Committee Chair Alan Hays (Umatilla) Capitol: (850) 487-5011 District: (352) 742-6441 Email:

Senate Budget Vice-Chair Lizbeth Benacquisto (Ft Myers) Capitol: (850) 487-5030 District: (239) 338-2570 Email:

House House Speaker Steve Crisafulli (Merritt Island) Capitol: (850) 488-1450 District: (321) 449-5111 Email:

House Budget Chairman Richard Corcoran (Lutz) Capitol: (850) 717-5037 District: (813) 792-5177 Email:

House Ag and Natural Resources Appropriations Chair Ben Albritton (Wauchula) Capitol: (850) 717-5056 District: (863) 534-0073 Email:

House Budget Vice-Chairman Jim Boyd (Bradenton) Capitol: (850) 717-5071 District: (941) 708-4968 Email:

Other Important Contacts:

Senator Joe Negron (Stuart) Capitol: (850) 487-5032 District: (772) 219-1665 Email:

Senator Denise Grimsley (Sebring) Capitol: (850) 487-5021 District: (863) 386-6016 Email:

Senator Charlie Dean (Inverness) Capitol: (850) 487-5005 District: (352) 860-5175 Email:

Senator Wilton Simpson (Trilby) Capitol: (850) 487-5018 District: (352) 540-6074 Email:

Vice-Chair of Senate General Government Appropriations Sen. Oscar Braynon (Miami Gardens) Capitol: (850) 487-5036 District: (305) 654-7150 Email:

Vice-Chair of House Ag and Nat. Resources Appropriations Rep. Ray Pilon (Sarasota) Capitol: (850) 717-5072 District: (941) 955-8077 Email:

Rep. Greg Steube (Sarasota) Capitol: (850) 717-5073 District: (941) 341-3117 Email:

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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.