land conservation

Time has run out for a program that's provided funding to more than 180 natural areas in Florida.

Sunday, Sept. 30 was the deadline for Congress to reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Money from the fund is used to create and maintain city, county and state parks, marinas, protected forests and historic battlefields in Florida and across the country. The fund is supported by fees on offshore oil and gas drilling.

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Arguing that time “is of the essence,” environmental groups Wednesday requested that a judge lift a stay of a ruling that found state lawmakers did not properly carry out a 2014 constitutional amendment that requires spending on land and water conservation.

Alachua County Environmental Conservation

An appeals court this week turned down a request by environmental groups to quickly move a major conservation-funding case to the Florida Supreme Court.

Attorneys for the state House and Senate last month appealed a Leon County circuit judge’s ruling that said lawmakers did not properly carry out a 2014 constitutional amendment that requires spending on land and water conservation.

Lawmakers Funnel $100 Million To Florida Forever

Mar 11, 2018

Neglected for nearly a decade, the Florida Forever conservation program would get $100.8 million in a proposed $88.7 billion budget that lawmakers are expected to approve Sunday.

Rep. Ben Albritton, a Wauchula Republican who chairs the House Agriculture & Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee, said most of the money would go for land preservation.

“We started at a much lower number for Florida Forever here in the House,” Albritton said. “Thank goodness, in conference (negotiations), we raised that number significantly.”

Florida lawmakers and Governor Scott are $50 million apart when it comes to funding the state’s signature land buying program. But whether it’s 50 million or 100 million, the state has backed out of such proposals before, zeroing out funding for Florida Forever three years in a row. Meanwhile millions of acres of land could be at risk of development.

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.