ADVOCATE: Big News from South Florida, Audubon Leader Tapped to Oversee State Parks, and Land Conservation Funding Measure Passes First Committee

Exciting News from South Florida's Loxahatchee Refuge

The South Florida Water Management District Governing Board agreed to enter into a new license agreement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, a move supported by Audubon! This agreement will continue their important partnership on the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge. This refuge hosts the largest wading bird colony in South Florida and is a vital part of America’s Everglades.

Last year at this time, the refuge's future was in doubt, and we asked for your help. Thousands responded.

Audubon commends the South Florida Water Management District and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for continuing this partnership. Read more

Audubon Florida Director Tapped to Lead Florida's State Parks

Late last week, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection named Eric Draper as the new director of the Florida State Parks System effective November 28, 2017. He will remain Audubon Florida’s executive director through November 27, 2017. Audubon congratulates Eric on his new role leading Florida’s award-winning state parks!

“Eric leaves Audubon with a legacy of real accomplishments,” said David Yarnold, National Audubon Society president and CEO. “From partnering on the restoration of the Everglades, to working with the State on designating or expanding 18 Florida Critical Wildlife Areas, Eric has been a model state director for Audubon. Eric’s achievements also include being able to see the big picture, including protections for larger Gulf Coast conservation efforts as well as being a lynchpin for birds in the Atlantic Flyway. The State of Florida is fortunate to have his commitment to conservation and his consummate political skills.”

Julie Wraithmell, Audubon Florida’s deputy director, will serve as interim executive director while Audubon undertakes a search for Eric’s successor.

Audubon-Supported Land Conservation Funding Measure Passes First Hurdle in Senate

Julie Wraithmell, Audubon Florida’s interim executive director, testified at the Senate Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee on Monday. She told lawmakers that the biggest challenge for land conservation in Florida is funding. After Julie's testimony on Senate Bill 370 (SB 370), which funds land conservation at $100 million, the bill PASSED this important committee! SB 370 now heads to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on the Environment and Natural Resources. We will keep you updated on its status. Watch Julie's testimony at 29:10 on The Florida Channel

*The Governor’s budget recommendations also included $50 million for State Parks, which includes ongoing management expenses.

Audubon Florida's Legislative Priorities

Land Conservation Funding

Audubon supports agency budget requests for Florida Forever and the Rural and Family Lands Protection Program that recommend strong funding for land acquisition and conservation easements. Audubon is seeking $150 million for land conservation including Florida Forever and Rural and Family Lands Protection Program.

Everglades Funding 

With the successful passage of the Legacy Florida Act in 2016 and Senate Bill 10 in 2017, we must continue to follow through on commitments to restoring America’s Everglades. Audubon supports the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Legislative Budget Request that seeks $305.8 million in Everglades funding- the largest single request ever by the agency.

Springs Funding     

Funds appropriated by the Florida Legislature can be combined with other funding sources to increase the investments to Florida’s Springs that advance projects and programs to improve water quality and increase freshwater flows. Audubon is seeking $50 million for Florida’s Springs.

Other Issues

Audubon is seeking $5 million for Lake Apopka Restoration. Audubon is also supporting the State of Florida in litigation before the U.S. Supreme Court that seeks to resolve a decades-long debate about how water can be allocated between Georgia, Alabama, and Florida. Audubon is monitoring this case closely.

How you can help, right now