Thanks to the leadership of President Biden and Congress, Florida will receive a projected $10 billion in federal Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery Funds. In a budget press conference today, the Florida House and Senate have agreed to direct $300 million towards the Florida Forever program, specifically for the protection of the Florida Wildlife Corridor. Federal funds for conservation will be allocated to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and will supplement the $100 million proposed for Florida Forever by state budget leaders this year.
The infusion of federal money to fund a Florida Wildlife Corridor will help us make up for lost time, as state conservation funding has been woefully inadequate since the 2008 recession. For more than two decades, legislative leaders consistently funded these programs at $300 million dollars and Floridians have demanded that we return to those funding levels, as evident in the overwhelming passage of the Water and Land Conservation Amendment in 2014.
Florida Conservation Voters are grateful to our national and state leaders for recognizing the importance that conserved lands and water plays in community health and prosperity. Additional water and land protection will help to meet the Biden Administration’s climate action plan and 30×30 land and water conservation goals.
While our state lawmakers should continuously fund these programs at a minimum of $300 million annually, we are hopeful that this federal funding will catalyze a stronger commitment to conservation by our state legislature in the 2022 session.
Strong and consistent historical funding for Florida Forever and other programs have helped to protect some of our most critical natural areas, including large portions of the Florida Wildlife Corridor. The Corridor is a network of public and privately owned lands that spans nearly 17 million acres and provides habitat for wildlife like the Florida panther and the Florida black bear. Many properties within the Corridor are already included in the Florida Forever priority list and can be conserved through acquisition or conservation easements with this additional funding.