TIME IS RUNNING OUT
Florida’s 2019 60-day Legislative Session is expected to end on May 3rd. To date, the state’s House and Senate members have still not funded the Rural and Family Lands Protection program. This is despite the fact that the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) has $75 million in budget requests.
In the above film, Julie Morris of The Florida Conservation Group explains, “Funding our land protection programs is a time-sensitive issue. Both Florida Forever and Rural Family Lands are critical programs to protecting wildlife populations and clean water. We can’t keep kicking the can down the road and putting off protecting one of our most sensitive landscapes.”
Morris stresses that the need for conservation easement programs is urgent. “Bottom line—if we want clean water, we have to protect the landscape. Conservation easements need funding this year!” she says, noting that protecting ranch lands north if the Florida Everglades is crucial to keeping South Florida’s water safe and clean.
SPEND A LITTLE NOW, SAVE A LOT LATER
Florida Forever and Rural and Family Lands Protection programs are a cost-efficient way to protect our water resources.
It’s been five years since more than 75 percent of voters approved a measure designed to protect Florida’s sensitive ecosystem. Known as Florida Forever, Constitutional Amendment 1 decided that the state must annually set aside one-third of documentary stamp tax revenue over 20 years to buy, manage and improve conservation lands and water.
Each year, Florida Forever receives up to $300 million.
Unfortunately, lawmakers neglected to significantly increase funding for Florida Forever. They fund other environmental projects; including beach restoration projects and waterways conservation in the Everglades, springs throughout the state, and the St. Johns River.
Funding conservation easements on large tracts of land is just as important.
“Bottom line—if we want clean water, we have to protect the landscape. Conservation easements need funding this year!”
—Julie Morris, The Florida Conservation Group http://www.floridaconserve.org
LAND ACQUISITION UPSTREAM IS CRUCIAL TO CLEAN WATER DOWNSTREAM
Out of his proposed $91.3 billion fiscal year 2020 budget request, Gov. Ron DeSantis has appropriated $100 million for the Florida Forever conservation land acquisition program. This amount represents the highest dedicated annual allocation since the fund has been accruing revenues during the past four years.
The Florida Senate proposed providing $45 million for Florida Forever, while the state’s House proposed $20 million for the program in their environmental budget.
Florida Forever will receive more than $100 million this year, according to an article in TCPalm.
Legislators are expected to complete the budget by the end of the day Tuesday. House and Senate members must vote on the budget by the end of this week. The annual legislative session is scheduled to end Friday.
Ranch landscapes are under threat of development. Ranchers are hard-working people who care for the land and water. Cattle operations are a low-intensity land use, because unlike neighborhoods, ranches actually store and clean water.
LEGISLATORS HAVE NEGLECTED TO ADEQUATELY FUND CONSERVATION LAND PROGRAMS
Prior to the 2008 recession, Florida Forever regularly received approximately $300 million. Unfortunately, that amount has been dwindling ever since.
Lawmakers will soon decide how much funding they will allocate to these important land protection programs.
Please share this article and the above video; which explains why Conservation Easements are worthy for funding at requested amounts, via email and social media.
RANCHERS EXPLAIN THEIR ROLE IN KEEPING FLORIDA GREEN
Rancher Brad Phares recently addressed a meeting of the Association of Florida Conservation Districts (AFCD). He spoke about Florida’s ranching history. He recalled ranchers’ current contributions towards keeping our state green. The ranching industry faces a variety of challenges, and Phares emphasized the need for land preservation via conservation easements.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity to help share our story,” said Phares in a Facebook post. “Y’all can have all that concrete and asphalt. I’ll stick to Florida the way she used to be.”
Earlier today, I addressed a meeting of the Association of Florida Conservation Districts (AFCD) speaking about Florida…
STEWARDS OF THE LAND
Conservation easements protect our water and wildlife in cost-effective ways, making ranchers responsible for the management of this precious land in perpetuity. Cattle prices may drop, but conservation easements help ranchers to keep their lands as pristine as possible.
Florida is growing; and real-estate prices are rising. However, our intact landscapes are disappearing. Protecting our waterways means protecting the watershed. Fixing problems downstream is futile without protecting what is upstream.
CALL THESE LEGISLATORS TODAY
Everyone around the world who cares about the future of Florida’s drinking water must take action! Please tell your local legislator that We the People support the funding of programs which protect Florida’s fragile ecosystem: Rural and Family Lands Protection Program and Florida Forever.
- Senator Rob Bradley, Chair of Appropriations (850) 487-5005
- Senator Wilton Simpson, Vice Chair of Appropriations (850) 487-5010
- Senator Debbie Mayfield, Chair of Appropriations Subcommmitee on Agriculture, Environment (850) 487-5017
- Senator Bobby Powell, Vice Chair of Appropriations Subcommmitee on Agriculture, Environment (850) 487-5030
- Rep. Travis Cummings, Chair of House Appropriations (850) 717-5018
- Rep. Dane Eagle, Vice Chair of House Appropriations (850) 717-5077
- Rep. Holly Raschein, Chair of House Agriculture & Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee (850) 717-5120
- Rep. Rick Roth, Vice Chair of House Agriculture & Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee (850) 717-5085