Audubon Advocate: 2017 Legislative Session - Week 1 Update

Florida Conservation Network Legislative Update

Lawmakers returned to Tallahassee this week for the start of the 2017 legislative session. Audubon’s priorities before the Florida Legislature include advancing the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) Reservoir, funding the Florida Forever program and influencing water policy. To accomplish our policy goals, Audubon Florida will advocate at the Capitol and enlist your support to communicate with policymakers. Audubon will also work with other allies to accomplish shared goals.

We will send weekly reports about the legislative activities while policymakers are in Tallahassee. We will keep you updated on issues that affect Florida’s environment and ask for your help. Please use the information we provide to engage with your neighbors and elected representatives.

Thank you for all you do for conservation in Florida!

America's Everglades: Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) Reservoir

Senate Bill 10 (SB 10), which includes the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) Reservoir, passed the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on the Environment and Natural Resources this week. The bill will now move to its last committee, the Senate Appropriations Committee, before heading to the full Senate floor. House Bill 761 (HB 761) that advances the Reservoir has been assigned to three committees in the House but has not been scheduled to be heard yet.

A study from Clemson University and the Everglades Foundation showed that the EAA Reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee would generate more than 39,000 jobs and provide a $20 billion economic benefit – an 8-to-1 return on investment.

Now is the time to make sure that your legislators hear from you! The EAA Reservoir is a top priority for Florida and must remain the central purpose of SB 10 and HB 761. Ask your legislators to support the EAA Reservoir.

A substantial amendment to SB 10 was also approved this week. The amendment leaves the EAA Reservoir proposal intact but could impact the availability of funding for land conservation from the Land Acquisition Trust Fund made available from the Florida Water and Land Conservation Initiative (Amendment 1 in 2014). Audubon will work with lawmakers and other conservation groups to improve the new provisions and make this bill a win-win that:

  • Helps America’s Everglades and coastal communities,
  • Allows additional investments in other water resources, and
  • Strengthens the state’s commitment to land conservation, including Florida Forever.

Audubon is urging a $150 million appropriation for land conservation in the state budget.

Land Conservation: Local Chapters Activated to Take Action in Florida Counties

Both Orange and Osceola Counties have approved resolutions urging the Florida Legislature to approve additional funding for the Florida Forever and Rural and Family Lands conservation programs that purchase conservation properties and easements. These resolutions were the result of an effective campaign by local Audubon chapters and allied environmental organizations. Across the Sunshine State, Audubon Florida is working with local Audubon chapters to pass similar resolutions by other county commissions. Learn more...

Audubon’s 2017 Legislative Priorities

  1. $150 million for Land Conservation including Florida Forever and Rural and Family Lands.
  2. Support Senate President Negron’s proposal to buy land for reservoirs to send Lake Okeechobee south.
  3. Advance water conservation and new limits on water pollution sources.

We hope we can count on you to stay engaged. Audubon is Florida’s most influential conservation voice. We show up at the right time, do our homework, and are respected for advancing science-based solutions. We propose more than we oppose. When we oppose, we work hard to stop bad ideas from becoming law.

P.S. – Audubon experts were featured in a National Public Radio series on America’s Everglades. Check it out today!

© 2017 National Audubon Society, Inc.