Audubon advocates are meeting with their state legislators to discuss the benefits of local conservation projects that are now at risk after the Florida Legislature defunded land conservation programs earlier this year. In advance of the next lawmaking session in Tallahassee, Audubon chapters and Audubon Florida are educating legislators about projects in and around their communities that are eligible to receive conservation dollars. Many legislators may not realize that there are often places in their own backyards at risk of development. Florida Forever and the Rural and Family Lands Protection Program, Florida’s main land conservation programs, are critical to saving the places that make Florida special and protecting rare and imperiled wildlife.
In 2014, the Audubon network led the way in gaining support for the Water and Land Legacy Amendment, which passed overwhelmingly with 75 percent approval from voters. This amendment to the Florida Constitution was supposed to dedicate funding for conservation. With help from Audubon advocates, Audubon Florida is working hard to secure adequate conservation funding made available through this amendment next year.
Programs like Florida Forever are often discussed in the abstract, and many decision-makers only recognize them as a budget line item to protect land. In reality, the impact of this funding is critical to the future of Florida’s wildlife and water resources. The focus needs to turn to the unique benefits of places that are proposed to be preserved for future generations. From places like the Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed in Southwest Florida to the Apalachicola River in the Panhandle, the Audubon network is shifting the conversation.
GET INVOLVED: Reach out to your local Audubon chapter or email FLConservation@audubon.org to find out more about how you can help protect the special places in your community.