With the ink barely dry on its water policy legislation, the Florida House is already mapping out a new plan for land conservation. Republican leaders began focusing Friday on Amendment 1 and how it fits in to managing millions of wilderness acres.
Environmentalists smelled victory as soon as Amendment 1 reached the November ballot. The same day 75 percent of voters approved it, visions of wildlife preserves, white beaches and sparking springs danced in their heads.
“I think it overwhelmingly demonstrated their support for increased funding – increased state funding – for water and land conservation and we’re hoping to carry that message into the state Legislature.”
Now that Amendment 1’s funneling $750 million into the environment, Republican House leaders are beginning to focus their gaze on the state’s 12 million acres of public wilderness.
“What does that look like when you put it all together and what is the most critical need for us to focus that money?”
That’s House State Affairs Committee Chairman Matt Caldwell. The Republican from North Fort Myers was describing his committee’s informational hearing on state land policy. Committee members listened to state lands director Kelley Boree give a few examples of the Department of Environmental Protection’s land preservation efforts in the past year.
“We’ve protected Bronson Springs in Washington County, we’ve acquired more than 900 acres in the Florida Keys ecosystem project..”
Boree’s dry recitation is a perfect example of what most voters pictured when they filled in the little circle for Amendment 1 – setting aside land to keep a step ahead of the bulldozer and the next strip mall.