Florida Forever

Kate Payne via WFSU

Florida lawmakers and Governor Scott are $50 million apart when it comes to funding the state’s signature land buying program. But whether it’s 50 million or 100 million, the state has backed out of such proposals before, zeroing out funding for Florida Forever three years in a row. Meanwhile millions of acres of land could be at risk of development.

Kate Payne via WFSU

Florida lawmakers are advancing a plan to allocate $100 million a year to the land buying program Florida Forever. Last year the legislature zeroed out its funding.

Ichetucknee Springs State Park in High Springs, Fla.
Visit Florida

A state senator is trying to put $100 million a year into the land conservation program Florida Forever.  The Legislature didn’t appropriate anything for it this year.

US Department of Agriculture

Hurricane Irma hung over an annual gathering of state and industry officials discussing water policy.

Master Sgt Jerry Morrison via Department of Defense / https://www.flickr.com/photos/soldiersmediacenter

Some of Florida’s military supporters are lining up behind the state’s land acquisition program. Unlikely allies are joining forces to defend Florida Forever.

Florida Wildlife Corridor

Former U.S. Sen. and Florida Gov. Bob Graham says the Legislature’s decision not to fund Florida Forever is a blatant violation of Amendment 1, the 2014 conservation amendment.

Canoeing on the Peace River
Charles Noegel via Florida Memory

The Florida Cabinet is approving two significant land acquisitions through Florida Forever.  But state lawmakers refused to put more money in the program’s trust fund this year.

Jason Dearen / AP

Advocates are developing a Florida Forever rescue strategy for next year, even before Governor Rick Scott weighs in on the Legislature’s $82.4 billion spending plan.

Apalachicola River
USDA

The Florida legislature directed funding toward water projects instead of land conservation this year. But environmental groups complain that the state has still not fully implemented the land conservation constitutional amendment passed in 2014.

Apalachicola River
USDA

Environmental groups want the state to buy nearly 40,000 acres of land along the Apalachicola River.

US Department of Agriculture

The Florida House is pushing to change how money in one of the state’s primary environmental trust funds is spent.  But most lawmakers were in the dark about how much money the fund will get as the measure went to a vote.

View of young people jumping into Horn Spring - Leon County, Florida. (1969)
Buckley, John Charles, 1945-2008 / Florida Memory

A vote on the purchase of about 11,000 acres of land for conversation has been postponed. Tuesday’s cabinet meeting has been canceled due to Hurricane Matthew.

FL Gov. Rick Scott
The Florida Channel

State Cabinet officials approved Florida Forever’s annual work plan Tuesday.  It includes several dozen plots of environmentally sensitive land.

The Everglades
Visit Florida / flickr.com

Nearly 75 percent of Florida voters backed the state’s new environmental conservation constitutional amendment. Amendment One backers call that overwhelming approval a mandate to the legislature to follow through on funding. But the $750 million generated for Amendment one, doesn’t look like the windfall environmentalists had hoped for.

Wakulla Springs
Rachel Kramer via Flickr

Wakulla Springs is far from the coast but apparently not immune from sea level rise.  That’s according to a report delivered Thursday to Florida’s Acquisition and Restoration Council.

The multi-agency council prioritizes the state’s Florida Forever properties, including a tract of nearly 400 acres near Upper Lake Lafayette.  Zoe Kulakowski from the Buck Lake Alliance says the property should be merged with an existing project to preserve Wakulla Springs, but she has some bad news about how the council has been projecting sea level rise.

water and trees
Daniel Piriano via Flickr

Note: Every day this week, we’ll be taking a look at amendments on the Florida ballot.

We start with Amendment 1: the measure setting aside public money for environmental conservation. Supporters of the amendment say it’s a way to accomplish what the Legislature has failed to do. But opponents say the Constitution isn’t the place to write state budgets.

Natural Bridge Battlefield State Park is a half-hour southeast of the Florida Capitol building. Preston Robertson, the lawyer for the nonprofit Florida Wildlife Federation, is looking across the water.

Jessica Palombo / WFSU News

At a public workshop Wednesday evening in Tallahassee, environmentalists expressed serious doubts about a list of conservation lands the state of Florida proposes to sell. The state is seeking public input as it looks to unload up to $50 million dollars’ worth of land.

Jessica Palombo / WFSU News

A proposed Florida constitutional amendment setting aside money for land conservation pits environmental groups against small-government advocates. The state’s public-land purchasing budget has been slashed in recent years, with some lawmakers arguing that mandating an amount that must be spent on conservation makes no fiscal sense.

St. Marks River
Jessica Palombo / WFSU News

By the end of the month, the state of Florida will release a list of public lands it’s considering selling. This year’s state budget requires the state to sell some property before it can purchase an equally valuable amount of conservation land.