Oppose State Lands SB 1290 (Sen. W. Simpson)/HB 1075 (Rep. Caldwell)

Dear FCC Members,

Despite your calls and emails, Senate Bill 1290 will be heard in the Senate Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee on Tuesday, February 9th, at 1:30 p.m.

Please call and write the members of this committee (see below) and ask them to vote no on SB 1290. To use our template, click here.

The Senate Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee is the first of three committee stops for SB 1290. HB 1075 has only one committee stop left, State Affairs, and it has not yet been placed on the agenda for that committee.



About SB 1290/HB 1075:

Florida’s protected state lands, purchased over the past three decades via the wildly popular Florida Forever program and its predecessor programs, are under attack. The Governor and Legislature are planning to sell conservation lands and are promoting changes in management that are detrimental to Florida’s wildlife and waters. In addition, this legislation would gut funding for land conservation by allowing Florida Forever funds to be spent on local water projects, instead of acquiring land and development rights as intended. We must stop this bad bill now!

The following provisions in SB 1290/HB 1075 threaten Florida’s ability to acquire, preserve and manage state conservation lands:

- Section 5 and Section 6 allow the State to surplus and sell state lands when it determines that the land's short-term management goals are not being met, if it is not actively managed by any state agency, or if a management plan has not been completed. Failure to meet short-term management goals, an incomplete management plan, or lack of active management may be a direct result of inadequate land management funding by the Legislature, or other temporary or avoidable situations, and should not be used as an excuse to dispose of conservation lands. Instead, the Legislature should ensure adequate funding for the management of Florida's conservation lands.

- Section 6 also directs the Division of State Lands to review all state-owned conservation lands every ten years to determine whether any can be surplused. This is a duplicative and unnecessary provision since each land management plan requires a review for surplus on a rotating basis when the management plan is updated.

- Section 8 allows private land owners who own land contiguous to state-owned lands to exchange it for the state-owned land, including state park land, if the state is given a permanent conservation easement over both parcels in the exchange. Conservation easements are often less protective of the environment than the management plans for state-owned land, resulting in practices that diminish the conservation values of the lands. Placing state lands in private ownership also reduces the ability of the state to comprehensively manage conservation lands. Finally, this type of exchange will often result in the loss of public access to lands that are currently owned by the state, diminishing the recreational value of the land. This daunting prospect would have a significantly negative impact on such beloved places as Paynes Prairie State Park and Myakka River State Park were they to be placed into private ownership under this provision.

- Section 14 allows money from Florida Forever, the state's premiere land acquisition program, to be used to fund all water resource development hardware, including the construction of treatment, transmission, and distribution facilities. Utilizing Florida Forever funds for the construction of water supply infrastructure is currently prohibited under state law. This change comes on the heels of Floridians overwhelmingly approving Amendment 1 in an effort to restore funding for land acquisition. With billions of dollars needed for local water infrastructure projects around the state, this provision could readily exhaust the funds set aside in the Land Acquisition Trust Fund, leaving inadequate funding available for acquiring conservation land, and negating the benefits of Amendment 1.

- Sections 15, 17, 21 and 22 allow state lands to be managed for conservation OR recreational purposes, deleting the requirement that state lands be managed in accordance with the purpose for which they were acquired. This could result in conservation lands being managed solely for recreational purposes, which might include converting natural lands into golf courses and other such inappropriate uses, harming the conservation value of the lands and betraying the original intent of acquiring the lands.

 If you love Florida's state lands, speak up for them today. Call or email the members of the Senate Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee (see below) and ask them to oppose SB 1290! To use our template, click here.

 

Senate Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee Members


Charles Dean
Dean.charles.web@flsenate.gov  
(850) 487-5005


Wilton Simpson
Simpson.wilton.web@flsenate.gov
(850) 487-5018


Thad Altman
Altman.thad.web@flsenate.gov  
(850) 487-5016


Greg Evers
Evers.greg.web@flsenate.gov
(850) 487-5002


Alan Hays
Hays.alan.web@flsenate.gov  
(850) 487-5011


Travis Hutson
Hutson.travis.web@flsenate.gov  
(850) 487-5006


David Simmons
Simmons.david.web@flsenate.gov
(850) 487-5010


Christopher L. Smith
Smith.chris.web@flsenate.gov  
(850) 487-5031


Darren Soto
Soto.darren.web@flsenate.gov  
(850) 487-5014


  

Thank you, as always, for your work. Without direct contact by voters, the legislators will only be speaking with the special interests promoting these terrible changes.

Sincerely,

Estus Whitfield

Florida Conservation Coalition