Dear FCC Members,
We have been very concerned about bills which would result in damaging changes to state land management in Florida.
HB 1075 passed the Agriculture & Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee on February 1 and is headed for its final committee of reference, State Affairs. Please contact the members of this committee (see below) and ask them to oppose this bad bill. To use our template, click here.
The Senate bill has not yet been calendared for its first committee of reference, Environmental Preservation and Conservation. Please contact the chair, Senator Dean (see below), and urge him not to agenda the bill. To use our template, click here.
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 wildlife. We know from the success of Amendment 1 that conservation of important natural lands still has the utmost significance to the vast majority of Floridians. These lands are the places where our natural heritage is conserved and protected, including wildlife, their habitat, and our precious water resources. They also provide public recreation for our exploding population and are integral to our economy and way of life.
The following provisions in HB 1075/ SB 1290 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 e-mail the members of the House State Affairs Committee (see below) and ask them to oppose HB 1075! Then call or e-mail the chair of the Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee, Senator Dean (see below), and urge him not to agenda SB 1290. To use our templates, click here to write the House State Affairs Committee and here to write Senator Dean.
House State Affairs Committee Members
(850) 717- 5079
(850) 717- 5026
(850) 717- 5115
(850) 717- 5030
(850) 718- 0047
(850) 717- 5013
(850) 717- 5004
(850) 717- 5050
(850) 717- 5063
Mike La Rosa
(850) 717- 5042
(850) 717- 5036
(850) 717- 5091
(850) 487- 5005
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.
Founder and Chairman, Florida Conservation Coalition