Local Foundations Push to Re-establish Florida Forever Fund

Todays News

BY JOHN WITTE SRQ DAILY FRESHLY SQUEEZED CONTENT EVERY MORNING TUESDAY JAN 21, 2020

This last December, a number of environmental organizations across Florida, including Sarasota’s Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast, pushed state legislators to fund the Florida Forever conservation priority list. The program would cost $300 million dollars, and would distribute funding across a number of state and local governmental agencies, with the largest share (thirty-five percent), going towards land acquisition and conservation, through the Division of State Lands.

The program, in existence since 2001, has managed the purchase of 814,063 acres of Florida land, including strategic habitat conservation area, rare species habitat areas, ecological greenways, under-represented natural communities, natural floodplanes, and coastlines, and wetlands. These lands are still being managed through the Florida Forever program, however, the state legislature has not appropriated the funds required for the program since 2011. Added to that, is the fact that voters passed an amendment to the Florida constitution, more than five years ago, that mandates legislators to maintain an environmental land acquisition fund with taxes collected form real estate development. Those funds, however, have failed to be used towards land acquisition. Christine Johnson, president of the Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast, sees our local situation in dire need of fixing.

 
“It is estimated that over a billion dollars worth of land is on the Florida Forever list. The Conservation Foundation alone has over $35 million worth of land that is environmentally sensitive, languishing, that’s from the Florida Forever list. It is time our Florida legislators to utilize our Land Acquisition Trust Fund, as was mandated by the voters five years ago.” There are currently two bills in the Florida state legislature, one in the house and the other in the Senate, which would guarantee $100 million a piece to Florida Forever, and the cause of land conservation in the state. There is also a special connection between Sarasota and Florida Forever, as our very own Bay Preserve was purchased with a $6.6 million grant from the program, making the maintenance of these properties not just a statewide issue for local conservation organizations, but a local one.

Photo by Sam Valentin.

« View The Tuesday Jan 21, 2020 SRQ Daily Edition
« Back To SRQ Daily Archive

Read More

Galvano Willing To Consider New College Merger

Galvano Willing To Consider New College Merger

Feb 20, 2020

Survey To Weigh Support For Mental Health District

Survey To Weigh Support For Mental Health District

Jacob Ogles | Feb 10, 2020

Claudia Barnett Elected Chairperson Of Sarasota Historic Preservation Advisory Board

Claudia Barnett Elected Chairperson Of Sarasota Historic Preservation Advisory Board

Feb 10, 2020

Sarasota County Commission Creates Economic Development Week

Sarasota County Commission Creates Economic Development Week

Feb 10, 2020