Citizen Advocate Guide for Land Conservation Campaign   Conserving environmentally sensitive land is one of the most important things Florida can do for its environment and economy. Yet, the 2017 Florida Legislature ignored the people and left Florida’s environmental future hanging in the balance by refusing to put meaningful funding toward land conservation. The only way things are going to get better, is if YOU fight back! The Florida Conservation Coalition is asking the Legislature to pass legislation during the 2018 session that annually dedicates the largest share of funds in the Land Acquisition Trust Fund (Amendment One dollars), approximately $300 million in the upcoming legislative session, to land conservation on the Florida Forever Priority List, the Rural and Family Lands Protection Program list, and projects funded through the Florida Communities Trust program. Here’s how you can help:

 

Citizen Advocate Guide for Land Conservation Campaign

 

Conserving environmentally sensitive land is one of the most important things Florida can do for its environment and economy. Yet, the 2017 Florida Legislature ignored the people and left Florida’s environmental future hanging in the balance by refusing to put meaningful funding toward land conservation.

The only way things are going to get better, is if YOU fight back!

The Florida Conservation Coalition is asking the Legislature to pass legislation during the 2018 session that annually dedicates the largest share of funds in the Land Acquisition Trust Fund (Amendment One dollars), approximately $300 million in the upcoming legislative session, to land conservation on the Florida Forever Priority List, the Rural and Family Lands Protection Program list, and projects funded through the Florida Communities Trust program.

Here’s how you can help:

Florida Seashore.jpg

·      Join the Florida Conservation Coalition to stay up to date on news and environmental legislation, receive FCC action alerts, get access to one-on-one advocacy coaching when you need it, and find out when important environmental events are coming to a town near you!

 

·      Check out the websites of the FCC’s Member and Affiliate Groups. Consider joining one or more groups whose work makes you excited!

 

·      Read the Florida Conservation Coalition’s Land Conservation Talking Points and arm yourself with some facts for when you speak to others about land conservation. Contact us if you have any questions.

FWC Photo

FWC Photo

·      Call your legislators.

o   Find our who your State Senator and State Representative are here.

o   You can find the contact information for your State Senator and Representative at the link at the bottom of the FCC’s Citizen Advocacy Page. If you call your Senator or Representative’s office, a staff member is likely to answer the phone. Treat staff members with the utmost respect.

o   Ask to speak with your Senator or Representative. If they are unavailable, leave a message with the staff person or the office’s answering machine.

o   Briefly explain why land conservation is important to you.

o   Ask your legislator to support legislation which dedicates the largest share of funds in the Land Acquisition Trust Fund to Florida’s land conservation programs. This amounts to approximately $300 million in the upcoming legislative session.

o   Follow up with your legislators’ office at least once a month to see if there has been any progress on this issue and remind them how important it is to you.

o   Let us know how your calls go.

 

·      Send your legislator newspaper articles and opinion pieces that echo the importance of land conservation and the need to dedicate funding annually to land conservation programs. Share these articles on social media as well.

FWC photo by Tim Donovan

FWC photo by Tim Donovan

·      Be sure to attend any town hall meetings your legislator is hosting as well as your County’s legislative delegation meetings.

o   Look in your local newspaper and on social media for press releases and notifications of upcoming meetings. The FCC has a list of upcoming delegation meetings. Just contact us for the details.

o   When you know of an upcoming Town Hall, share the event details on social media and encourage your friends to use the event as an opportunity to advocate for land conservation with you.

o   An example comment to give at a Delegation meetings is:

The conservation of Florida’s natural areas and recreational lands is one of the most important things we can do to protect Florida’s environment and economy for present and future generations. The Florida Water and Land Conservation Amendment, passed by 75% of voters, was intended to restore funding for land conservation.

From 2015-2018, less than 4% of dollars from the Amendment have been allocated to land conservation statewide. I urge you to reverse this trend and support legislation that annually dedicates the largest share of funds from the Land Acquisition Trust Fund, almost $300 million in the upcoming legislative session, to land conservation programs including the Florida Forever priority list, Rural and Family Lands Protection Program, and Florida Communities Trust program.

 

o If you would like to write your own comments or edit the example comment above, you can use the FCC's Talking Points for inspiration.

o If you are at a meeting where you can ask your legislators a question, ask:

Will you support annually dedicating the largest share of funds in the Land Acquisition Trust Fund to land conservation programs including Florida Forever priority projects, the Rural and Family Lands Protection Program, and the Florida Communities Trust program?

 If your legislator dodges the question, ask a follow up question to get a clear answer.

o   Record the legislator’s answer to your question

o   Share the legislator’s answer with the FCC.

 

·      Get your friends involved: Talk to your loved ones about the importance of land conservation and encourage them to take some of the actions above as well.

 

  ·      Write an opinion piece for your local newspaper in support of annually dedicating the largest share of Amendment One funds to land conservation. The FCC’s Land Conservation Talking Points can provide inspiration. If you’d like assistance with editing or submitting the opinion piece, contact the FCC.

FWC photo by Karen Parker of MAnatee Springs

FWC photo by Karen Parker of MAnatee Springs

·      Contact your legislator’s district offices and request meetings with your legislators.

o   Contact us when you’ve scheduled your meeting. We’ll make sure you have the information you need to talk about land conservation confidently.

o   At the meeting, let your legislator know why land conservation funding is important to you.

o   Share the FCC’s land conservation position statement with your legislator, and ask them to do whatever they can to support it.

o   If your legislator asks you a question you don’t know the answer to during your meeting, that’s okay! Just be honest – tell the legislator you don’t have that information but you can get it for them. Contact the FCC, and we will find the information you need so you can relay it back to your legislator. It’s better to give your legislator correct information a little later, than to ruin your credibility with the legislator by making something up in the moment.

o   Let the FCC know how your meeting went.

o   Send a hand written thank you note to your legislator to thank them for meeting with you.

o   Send a hand written thank you note to the staff person that scheduled the meeting with your legislator for you.

o   If you’ve been trying to schedule a meeting with your legislator and have not been successful, let the FCC know.

FWC photo by Rebekah Nelson at Falling waters state park

FWC photo by Rebekah Nelson at Falling waters state park

·      If your legislator is willing, schedule a time to take your legislator to a conservation property that exemplifies the need for land conservation funding.

o   The legislator’s staff will be crucial in your success with this endeavor. Treat the staff with the utmost respect.

o   If you need help figuring out which property to bring your legislator to, or if you have any questions, contact the FCC.

o   If you’d like, an FCC Steering Committee member can visit the land with you. Just contact the FCC to request a professional advocate join you!

o   If your legislator accepts your invitation, use the opportunity to share why land conservation is important to you.

o   Let the FCC know how your visit went.

o   Send a hand written thank you note to your legislator to thank them for joining you to the conservation property.

o   Send a hand written thank you note to the staff person who helped you schedule your outing with your legislator.