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Tallahassee Rep. says water experts should have been included in a bill now heading to the governor

Green trees and a blue sky with white fluffy clouds reflect in the water of Wakulla Springs
Erich Martin
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Rep. Alison Tant (D-Tallahssee) says water experts should be included on Soil and Water Conservation District boards to help protect places like Wakulla Springs. A bill heading to the governor's desk would require candidates to have a connection to agriculture.

Who should sit on local Soil and Water Conservation District boards? A bill heading to the governor would limit that to people who have experience working in agriculture or who own or lease agricultural lands.

Rep. Keith Truenow (R-Tavares) is carrying the bill in his chamber. He said it makes sense to require those elected to be involved in the profession.

On many boards we have professionals that lead and serve, but professionals for that occupation. Putting these professionals where they need to be is the right thing to do," Truenow said.

But Rep. Alison Tant (D-Tallahassee) said that ignores entire categories of people who are soil and water professionals. She said Leon County doesn’t have many large farms. It does have important water features.

“We do have folks here who know the Wakulla Springs Water Basin that is so critically important to our agricultural lands in North Florida as well as to our drinking water here," Tant said. "By silencing the voice of experts who don’t have just agricultural expertise, that’s a problem for areas like mine.”

Soil and Water Conservation District supervisors are elected to office but the position has no salary or regulatory power. Those elected do their work primarily through advocacy.

Some have pointed to the bill, which started out as a plan to abolish the positions completely, as an effort to quiet environmentalists who are often elected as supervisors.

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Regan McCarthy is the Assistant News Director for WFSU Public Media. Before coming to Tallahassee, Regan graduated with honors from Indiana University’s Ernie Pyle School of Journalism. She worked for several years for NPR member station WFIU in Bloomington, Ind., where she covered local and state government and produced feature and community stories.

Phone: (850) 645-6090 | rmccarthy@fsu.edu

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