The Florida legislature has agreed to appropriate $100.8 million to land conservation programs that will protect and restore wildlife habitat in the state. This includes $77 million for the Florida Forever land acquisition program. This is the first year since the 2014 voter-approved constitutional amendment that there has been a significant appropriation for Florida Forever, and it is more than double the amount the legislature has appropriated to the program over the past 10 years. Through the 1990s and 2000s, Florida appropriated as much as $300 million a year for land acquisition programs.
Statement from Defenders of Wildlife Senior Representative Kent Wimmer:
“Thanks to the tireless efforts of conservation advocates in Florida, we finally have significant funding to help conserve our state’s unique natural heritage. Securing this long-overdue funding was a truly collaborative effort by the Florida Conservation Coalition and citizens in Florida who care about our wildlife and their habitat.
“We succeeded in the face of indifference and interference from political leaders who tried to funnel away tax dollars set aside for land conservation– against the wishes of 75 percent of Florida voters who supported the 2014 Constitutional Amendment 1. While the approved amount falls far short of past land conservation appropriations and present needs, we are looking forward to applying these hard-won funds to help the Florida panther, gopher tortoise, manatee and hundreds of other species that survive and thrive in the Sunshine state.”