As the 2017 Florida legislative session concludes, we wanted to share this exclusive update.
Yesterday we alerted you that legislators were considering providing no funding at all for Florida Forever and the Rural and Family Lands Programs. You answered our call to speak out, and more than 75,000 emails from Audubon advocates were sent to Tallahassee in support of land conservation! Today, the House proposed $11 million for agricultural conservation easements, but there is still no money for Florida Forever. Now it is up to House and Senate leadership to fund these important conservation programs.
Florida's special places still need your support. Please send a message to the Speaker of the House, Senate President, House Appropriations Chair and Senate Appropriations Chair. Thank you for making a difference and keeping Florida Forever alive!
New proposals for Florida Forever’s Future
Earlier this week, in an encouraging sign of support for the future of Florida Forever, Rep. Matt Caldwell sponsored new legislation that would dedicate an increasing amount of funding from 2014’s Amendment 1 for land conservation programs.
This came on the heels of a separate proposal to reallocate the formula for distributing funds under the Florida Forever Trust Fund. House Bill 7119 would remove water management district funding for land acquisition and capital projects and increase the amount of the Florida Forever Trust Fund that goes toward conservation easements, including the Rural and Family Lands Protection Program. The bill also states that Florida Forever should receive priority funding from Amendment 1, once other legislatively required payments are made. The bill may see additional action next week.
Positive Signs on Key Everglades Legislation
Audubon welcomed reports that the Florida House has agreed to support Senate Bill 10 (SB 10) and the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) Reservoir. The House still needs to take legislative action on SB 10. The project will store a minimum of 240,000 acre-feet of water that can be captured from Lake Okeechobee when high-level discharges are necessary and move water south to provide a source of freshwater to the Southern Everglades and Florida Bay. Audubon will keep you updated on this top legislative priority as we enter the final week of the legislative session.
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.