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Florida Forever

Here Are 10 Big Issues From The 2020 Florida Legislative Session

Mar 21, 2020
NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA

Florida lawmakers finished the 2020 legislative session Thursday by passing a $93.2 billion budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1.

Senators pressed forward Tuesday with a proposal that would provide $100 million a year for Florida Forever, as the House and Senate go into budget talks far apart on the land-buying program.

The Senate Agriculture, Environment and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee backed a proposal (SB 332) by Sen. Linda Stewart, D-Orlando, that would funnel $100 million annually to Florida Forever. The money could come from a trust fund that receives real-estate tax dollars under a 2014 constitutional amendment aimed at land and water conservation.

State leaders have agreed to acquire more than 5,000 acres of land in Sarasota County for conservation.

Environmentalists have long had their eyes on Orange Hammock Ranch in North Port because of its proximity to other preserved lands in the Myakka River watershed.

Gov. Ron DeSantis would get more than the $625 million he requested for environmental projects, Florida Forever would see a funding cut and Visit Florida would be shuttered, under parts of a House budget proposal released Tuesday.

Speakers at Sierra Club
Steve Newborn / WUSF Public Media

Several environmental groups and lawmakers gathered in four cities across the state Friday to ask for full funding from Tallahassee for Florida's main conservation land-purchasing program.

Environmentalists Wary Of Bleak Florida Forever Budget

Apr 29, 2019

As negotiations for the state’s yearly budget get closer and closer to a resolution, one line item has environmentalists shaking their heads.

The initial offer for funding Florida’s premier land acquisition program, Florida Forever, is less than half what some expected going into budget negotiations.

Fast Track Rejected In Conservation Funding Case

Aug 31, 2018

An appeals court this week turned down a request by environmental groups to quickly move a major conservation-funding case to the Florida Supreme Court.

Attorneys for the state House and Senate last month appealed a Leon County circuit judge’s ruling that said lawmakers did not properly carry out a 2014 constitutional amendment that requires spending on land and water conservation.

Steve Newborn / WUSF Public Media

Members of the Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition twice embarked on 1,000-mile treks across the state in the past seven years. Their mission: to bring attention to the need to protect corridors between preserved areas so wildlife can migrate through Florida.

Carlton Ward Jr.

The Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition team has trekked through scrub, swamp and forest from one end of the state to the other. 

This week on Florida Matters we're talking about some of the key takeaways from the 2018 legislative session.

We break down parts of the state budget as well as measures on school safety, gun control and opioid prescriptions. We also debate the session's "winners and losers."


Lawmakers Funnel $100 Million To Florida Forever

Mar 10, 2018
Florida Department of Environmental Protection

Neglected for nearly a decade, the Florida Forever conservation program would get $100.8 million in a proposed $88.7 billion budget that lawmakers are expected to approve Sunday.

Rep. Ben Albritton, a Wauchula Republican who chairs the House Agriculture & Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee, said most of the money would go for land preservation.

“We started at a much lower number for Florida Forever here in the House,” Albritton said. “Thank goodness, in conference (negotiations), we raised that number significantly.”

Senate Passes Florida Forever Funding Package

Feb 1, 2018

Over the last three years, Florida Forever has not been the titan of land preservation it once was. The conservation program has seen significant cutbacks in funding, and has lost its effectiveness in continuing to protect the state’s vast landscape. But, a bill in the Florida Senate reestablishes Florida Forever as the model of land preservation it once was.

Senate Taking Up Florida Forever, Child Marriage

Jan 23, 2018

The Florida Senate on Wednesday is expected to take up a bill that would set aside $100 million a year for the Florida Forever program and a proposal that would place a statue of civil rights leader and educator Mary McLeod Bethune in the U.S. Capitol.

Photo by Carlton Ward, Jr./Courtesy Florida Wildlife Corridor

After being starved of money for years, several proposals are gaining ground in Tallahassee that could set aside money to buy and preserve what's left of Florida's natural lands. 

Senate Backs Forever Florida, St. Johns Proposals

Dec 11, 2017

Measures that would double Gov. Rick Scott's spending request for the Florida Forever conservation program and earmark money to improve the St. Johns River continued to move easily through the Senate on Thursday.

Florida lawmakers are advancing a plan to allocate $100 million a year to the land buying program Florida Forever. Last year the legislature zeroed out its funding.

Florida Governor Rick Scott is unveiling his plans for environmental spending ahead of the 2018 lawmaking session.

A state senator is trying to put $100 million a year into the land conservation program Florida Forever.  The Legislature didn’t appropriate anything for it this year.

Some of Florida’s military supporters are lining up behind the state’s land acquisition program. Unlikely allies are joining forces to defend Florida Forever.

Former U.S. Sen. and Florida Gov. Bob Graham says the Legislature’s decision not to fund Florida Forever is a blatant violation of Amendment 1, the 2014 conservation amendment.

The Florida Cabinet is approving two significant land acquisitions through Florida Forever.  But state lawmakers refused to put more money in the program’s trust fund this year.

Advocates are developing a Florida Forever rescue strategy for next year, even before Governor Rick Scott weighs in on the Legislature’s $82.4 billion spending plan.

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, considered the GOP frontrunner in next year’s governor’s race, is slamming the Legislature’s $82.4 billion spending plan.

Florida's Rural Lands Program Could Run Short Of Cash

May 20, 2017
Florida Wildlife Corridor

Gov. Rick Scott and the state Cabinet could spend about $8.5 million next week to conserve thousands of acres of land owned for decades by two ranching families.

Such deals have become a widely used strategy in recent years to protect land from development.

But the program that would pay for the deals in Okeechobee and Highlands counties --- known as the Rural and Family Lands Protection Program --- could be out of money by 2018, even with funds carried over from the current year's budget.

The Knight Foundation

The Florida Legislature has voted to eliminate funding for Florida Forever, the state's primary land-conservation program.

The only part of Florida Forever that is receiving any money this coming year is $10 million dollars for ranchers to not develop their land.  Since 2001, the state has spent nearly $3 billion to buy more than 700,000 acres of land.

The Florida House is pushing to change how money in one of the state’s primary environmental trust funds is spent.  But most lawmakers were in the dark about how much money the fund will get as the measure went to a vote.

Florida lawmakers have tentatively agreed to pull funding from the state's top land conservation programs.

A bill that looks to "un-muddy" the mission of Florida's main environmental land acquisition program could potentially affect the plan for an Everglades reservoir.

Updated at 11 a.m. Tuesday

On the wall behind Jim McCarthy’s desk hangs a large photograph of a skeletonized tree trunk resting on the iconic Boneyard Beach at Big Talbot Island State Park.

“That beach is important,” said McCarthy, president of North Florida Land Trust. Since 2012, the nonprofit organization has preserved most of the over 1,000 acres of privately owned land on the island. The project, which protects migratory birds’ layover spots and diamondback terrapins’ dwellings, is largely financed by a private fund.


Environmentalists are breathing a sigh of relief after a powerful House Republican agreed to back down from his controversial “use it or lose it,” approach to state land.

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