Last week Governor Scott signed the 2018-2019 budget, securing the largest allocation for land conservation in a decade. This is a significant improvement over the troubling trend of indifference toward protecting natural Florida that’s prevailed in Tallahassee recently.
It hasn’t been an easy road to this point. The Florida Conservation Coalition (FCC) has been working for years to restore land acquisition funding. In 2014, Floridians came together to pass the Water and Land Conservation Constitutional Amendment with this primary purpose. When the Legislature failed to honor the will of the voters, the FCC Steering Committee decided, in 2017, to request legislation dedicating annual funding for land conservation programs. The Legislature allocated $0 to the Florida Forever program that year. But our advocacy has not been in vain.
Our work with with the Legislature in 2017, and with Senator Linda Stewart in particular, led influential Senator Rob Bradley to promise he would address Florida Forever in 2018. He came through on his promise by filing SB 370, a bill that would have dedicated $100 million annually to the Florida Forever Trust Fund. SB 370 was unanimously supported by the Florida Senate. Although it was never heard in the House, the $100 million proposed allocation was included in the 2018-19 budget.
This victory could not have happened without your persistent voice in delegation meetings, in messages on legislator’s answering machines, and in the opinion sections of newspapers around the state. I extend my gratitude to you, FCC’s hard-working Member and Affiliate groups, and our champions in the Legislature for this year’s Florida Forever funding.
We may have fallen short of achieving all our land conservation goals, but changing the world, or even the state, never happens quickly or easily. We’re making progress, and together, we can continue to do so. The FCC has plans to build on this year’s work in pursuit of land conservation legislation in the 2019 Legislative Session, but we need your financial support to keep the FCC running. Please consider donating to the FCC and look out for a special email from our chairman and founder, Sen. Bob Graham, in the coming days.
Thank you for standing with the Florida Conservation Coalition and congratulations on our win this year!