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Senate Shifts, Proposes to Use Conservation Dollars for Conservation

Exclusive Update on Land Conservation Funding in Florida

Species: Sandhill Crane. Photographer: Andrew Byerly

Last night, we alerted you first thing when the Florida House of Representatives recommended $0 for important land conservation programs like Florida Forever and the Rural and Family Lands Program. Today, we’re sharing a positive development from the Florida Senate. The Senate’s budget proposal seeks to fund $111 million in salaries and expenses from General Revenue instead of the Land Acquisition Trust Fund (LATF). This is a win. LATF was set-up by voters through Amendment 1 in 2014. It was intended to be used for conservation through land acquisition, not funding state agency salaries and expenses. This frees up these dollars for land conservation.

We’re also closely monitoring the Senate’s budget proposals. They announced a mere $22 million for some key land conservation programs but nothing for the Rural and Family Lands Program. As you might already know, Florida Forever and the Rural and Family Lands Program are important for Florida’s environment. They: 
•    Save Florida’s special places and critical bird habitats,
•    Protect Florida’s water supply, and
•    Leave some of Florida historic natural beauty for future generations.

Key leadership in the Florida House and Senate need to hear from you. Tell them how important it is that we fully fund Florida’s land conservation programs. Drop them a note here: richard.corcoran@myfloridahouse.gov; ben.albritton@myfloridahouse.gov; ray.rodrigues@myfloridahouse.gov; negron.joe.web@flsenate.gov; latvala.jack.web@flsenate.gov; bradley.rob.web@flsenate.gov 

P.S. Some good news out of South Florida: The Southwest Florida Water Management District will purchase 115 acres of Rainbow River Ranch located east of Dunnellon, Florida. The land will serve as an addition to the Rainbow Springs State Park and is the result of more than 10 years of advocacy by Audubon Florida, Marion County Audubon Society, and other local partners.

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