1000 Friends Of Florida Vows To Keep Fighting For Conservation Funding

May 26, 2017
Originally published on May 25, 2017 10:57 am

Environmentalists unhappy with Florida lawmakers are vowing to keep fighting over this year’s lack of funding for land acquisition under the state’s Water and Land Conservation Amendment.

The activist group — 1000 Friends of Florida — said Wednesday it plans to make conservation funding a priority in the 2018 legislative session.

A key component of the strategy involves mobilizing the citizenry, says the group’s Ryan Smart.

“Almost every county in Florida has lands on the Florida Forever or rural and family lands list that are important to lots of people in your area," he said. "And if you express their importance, your legislator will hopefully listen.”

Plus, Smart said, “If you’re willing to take that action and set up a meeting, call our office and we will get you all the information you need about how to discuss the program, what properties are in your area, anything you need. We’ll even come to the meetings with you if we can.”

The program Smart refers to is Florida Forever, a state initiative created nearly 20 years ago to protect Florida’s natural and cultural heritage by acquiring key properties.

Amendment One approved by more than 75 percent of state voters in 2014 called for setting aside a third of the real estate transfer tax to pay for land and water preservation projects.

Lawmakers have faced lawsuits, however, for spending Florida Forever money on things like overhead and salaries. And this year, the legislature zeroed out the program’s budget in order to have enough money for Everglades restoration.

Cyd Hoskinson at choskinson@wjct.org, 904-358-6351 and on Twitter @cydwjctnews

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