Audubon Testifies Before Senate Appropriations Committee: Land Conservation Funding is Crucial to Environment, Economy, and Quality of Life
Audubon has championed land conservation since its inception—for wildlife, habitat, water recharge values and more. Florida’s impressive history of public land acquisition—first through CARL (Conservation and Recreational Lands), then Preservation 2000, and now Florida Forever—has long been the envy of other states. Unfortunately, doc stamp revenues fell during the Great Recession, and the state’s annual investments in land protection dropped. Now with Florida’s economy recovered, jobs growing and conservation land deals available, Audubon is urging decision-makers to reinstate this cornerstone environmental program in the 2018-2019 budget.
Last Wednesday, Interim Executive Director Julie Wraithmell spoke during the Senate Appropriations Committee at the invitation of its chair about the legacy of Florida Forever and the importance of dedicated funding. Watch Julie's Testimony at 1:43:00 on The Florida Channel.
Conservation lands not only provide places for wildlife to live and Floridians to enjoy, they also protect and recharge our water supply, preserve our history, and protect us from sea level rise.
Stay tuned to the Audubon Advocate for opportunities to speak on behalf of wildlife and wildlands as 2018 legislative session approaches. Click here to sign up.
Audubon Opposes Legislation That Would Gut Local Tree Protections
Local tree ordinances do not just preserve the aesthetic character of local communities. Protecting urban forests helps provide essential habitat for migrant and resident birds, helps protect urban air quality, and helps reduce the “heat island” effect of paved urban areas. Audubon opposes these bills in their current form.
Stay tuned to Audubon Florida’s Facebook and Twitter for the latest on these bad bills. To date, the bills have been referred to several committees, but have not yet been added to any agendas for future hearings.
In Case You Missed It: Audubon Executive Director to Lead Florida State Parks
Congratulations to Eric Draper, Audubon Florida’s outgoing executive director, on his recent appointment to lead Florida’s three-time gold medal award-winning State Parks. Eric's last day with Audubon is November 27. Deputy Director Julie Wraithmell was appointed interim executive director of Audubon Florida.
Eric has been an icon in Florida’s conservation community for decades and will be a tremendous asset to our beloved Florida Park Service. We wish him well on this new adventure. Check out the Tampa Bay Times’ recent editorial endorsement of this move:
Gov. Rick Scott made a surprising pick to lead Florida’s state park system: a bona fide environmentalist. Eric Draper, head of the environmental group Audubon Florida, is also a political player who can navigate the dealmaking that goes on in Tallahassee. He should be well suited to preserve the parks’ legacy as public treasures worthy of conservation. Read more in the Tampa Bay Times.
Audubon Attends Congressional Everglades Caucus Meeting in Washington
A recent meeting of the Congressional Everglades Caucus in Washington D.C. discussed the impact from Hurricane Irma on America's Everglades and restoration projects. While there were damages to facilities within Everglades National Park and some restoration projects, the key takeaway was how essential restoration efforts are to help the ecosystem and South Florida become more resilient to future extreme weather impacts. A subsequent request from the Trump Administration for additional storm response funding sought resources for important projects. Audubon continues to work with Florida’s Congressional delegation to advance the smart investments in restoration efforts.
*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.
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.
Funds appropriated by the Florida Legislature can be leveraged with other funding sources to advance springs projects and programs to improve water quality and increase freshwater flows. Audubon is seeking $50 million for Florida’s springs.
Audubon is seeking $5 million for Lake Apopka Restoration.