After a long few days of budget negotiations, the House and Senate have agreed to fund the Florida Forever program at $100 million! Hundreds of Conservation Voters contacted budget leaders and urged them to fund our vital conservation programs. Your advocacy made a difference!
From our award-winning parks and miles of sandy beaches to our crystal clear springs and the “river of grass,” Florida is special because of our cherished natural areas.
FCV advocates for funding the entire suite of conservation programs, including the Florida Forever priority list, Florida Communities Trust, the Rural and Family Lands Protection Program, and others. This year only one of those programs – the Florida Forever priority list – will be funded. But each of these programs fills an important role in meeting the diverse conservation needs across our state, whether it’s adding new state parks, like the Ruth B Kirby Gilchrist Blue Springs State Park; providing matching grants for municipalities to create local parks; or conserving working landscapes like ranches.
With decades-long investment in programs like Preservation 2000 and Florida Forever, our state is a national leader in conservation. Over the past five years,129,000 acres were protected through acquisition or conservation easements. 125 projects remain on the Florida Forever priority list, meaning that there is still much work to be done.
FCV advocates for land and water conservation in several ways. We work directly with lawmakers to sponsor and pass bills to permanently fund Florida Forever. We speak in support of good conservation projects for approval by our Governor and Cabinet. And we talk with all of our state elected officials about the importance of investing in conservation. As our state population continues to grow, we also need to grow support for these great programs.
With your help, FCV will build on this momentum and work towards historic funding of $300 million annually for the full suite of conservation programs. But today, we celebrate this victory of securing $100 million for Florida Forever.
Thank you to our conservation leaders for their commitment to Florida Forever. In particular, we appreciate leadership by Senate President Simpson and House Speaker Sprowls; Appropriations Chairs Sen. Stargel and Rep. Trumbull; Agriculture and Natural Resources Appropriations Chairs Sen. Albritton and Rep. Tomkow; and bill sponsors Sen. Stewart, Sen. Brodeur, Rep. Roth, and Rep. Altman.
This year has taught us just how important our parks are to our physical and mental health, as safe places for recreation, and for our unique and abundant wildlife. As we celebrate Earth Day this Thursday, April 22, know that the tireless advocacy of Conservation Voters has helped to protect more of the places that make Florida special.
You can learn more about Florida Forever water and land conservation programs by purchasing a Gems Report. Proceeds support the Florida Conservation Voters Education Fund.
How can we get some of that money put to work to help with the manatee dieoffs? We need some kind of initiative to clean up our estuaries and replant the seagrass beds.