Egret in cypress swamp, © Farrell Grehan / National Geographic Stock

A Landmark Florida Conservation Movement

Laurie MacDonald, Florida Program Director 

Here in Florida, we’re on our way to making history with a grassroots constitutional amendment campaign to save the state’s wild and wonderful places. Defenders and a growing list of partners are striving to secure funding for state land acquisition, restoration and management programs for Florida’s future!

Florida Manatee, © Jim Reid/USFWS

In late September, the Florida Supreme Court approved the language of the proposed constitutional amendment, Florida’s Water and Land Legacy. The next milestone is big but within our grasp – we’re more than halfway there and we now need 300,000 more petition signatures within the next two months to reach the 680,000 that qualifies the measure to be placed on the November 2014 ballot.

So exactly what is it that we’re working to get on the ballot? The amendment would decree that one-third of Florida’s existing documentary stamp tax revenues, which are paid when real estate is sold, will be used for conservation purposes. Florida is home to a fascinating and unique array of wildlife but ranks among the states with the highest number of endangered species. Rampant development, road building and conversions to intensive agriculture are leaving less and less space for these species to call home. This amendment would provide more than $5 billion for water and land conservation in Florida over the next ten years! And all from an existing revenue source without any tax increase.

Here are some of the ways in which the funding would be used:

  • Continuing the stellar Florida Forever public land acquisition program
  • Serving as the major source of funding for protecting wildlife habitat throughout the state
  • Restoring America’s Everglades, including clean water for people and natural systems
  • Establishing conservation easements with landowners
  • Protecting historical, cultural and archeological sites
  • Providing recreation areas for Floridians, their families and visitors
Gopher tortoise, © NASA

A gopher tortoise – another endangered species living in Florida

These programs save the habitat of wide-ranging Florida panthers; river corridors and springs for manatees, sturgeon, and wading birds; ancient scrub for the gopher tortoise and the many species that share their burrows; and the globally important nesting beaches of the sea turtles that depend on our Florida coasts.

We’re proud to be part of the effort to move this amendment forward to protect some of our nation’s most unique and biologically diverse ecosystems and the rare and imperiled creatures that live there. Defenders and our partners are looking forward to November 2014, and working towards a landmark victory for Florida’s wildlife and wild places.

 

Live in Florida?
For more information and to sign up to gather petition signatures, visit floridawaterlandlegacy.org. Information and petition materials are also available at our Defenders field office in St Petersburg, FL.

3 Responses to “A Landmark Florida Conservation Movement”

  1. Paul Davidson

    Great job!!! Perhaps the work you are doing in Florida can pave the way for others in other regions of the country. We could certainly use something like this in the Lower Mississippi River Alluvial Valley. As we try to build corridors to link bear populations, some say corridors aren’t necessary. We can never have “too much” habitat.

    Reply
  2. P. Dyer

    This is a good thing. Way too much natural habitat has already been lost in Florida. Time to save what we can.

    Reply
  3. susan saltiel

    The tymes I’ve visited the fantastic,beautiful Florida,I didn’t want to leave! Visited many wildlife places and organized a beach clean-up….bless you in all your efforts to keep Florida better than ever for the wildlife! We CAN work in harmony with them!

    Reply

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