Fund Florida Forever
January 17, 2010
The nation's biggest land conservation program has another chance
before the 2010 Legislature to renew itself and change course from the 2009 majority decision not to fund this
very popular and successful effort.
Florida Forever has always been strongly supported by various
conservation, business, local, state and regional government, private landowners and citizen groups. A recent
poll confirmed that 67 percent of Floridians support continued funding for this program.
Some suggest that
enough land has already been protected, and in this time of budget cutting and priorities, buying land should
not be a priority. For a host of reasons, this is the shortsighted, wrong choice.
1000 Friends of Florida
believes now is the time to renew one of Florida's signature programs and take advantage of a real estate market
that may not provide opportunities like these for decades. Even at a time of economic downturn, the threats of
unmitigated urban sprawl and rampant overdevelopment are evident daily. The resulting loss of parks and public
spaces, the decline in water supply and quality, and the harm to agricultural lands that will accompany
inappropriate growth will have severe negative impacts on the quality of life for all Floridians.
Florida Forever and the complementary land conservation programs of local, federal and nonprofit partners
represent a market-based, non-regulatory approach to protecting special places critical to the environment and
quality of life in Florida. This program and its predecessor programs have received the unwavering support of
many elected leaders from both political parties. In fact, four of Florida's outstanding former governors are
honorary co-chairs of the Florida Forever Coalition: Ruben Askew, Bob Graham, Bob Martinez and Jeb Bush.
To be blunt about it, land conservation is simply good business. Protecting environmental lands, whether
through outright purchase or easement, supports nearly every aspect of Florida's economy, from job creation
to real estate to recreation.
In 2007, hunting, fishing and wildlife watching supported 120,000 jobs.
Every 1,000 people visiting a state park on average spent $43,400 in the host community.
The U.S. Fish
and Wildlife Service estimates the outdoor recreation business in Florida is an $8.1 billion industry; others
put the figure higher, at $11.6 billion.
We need the votes of legislators to make the annual, modest
investment ($15 million in actual cash allows bond sales that will generate $300 million in purchase and easement
opportunities) Florida Forever needs.
Florida Forever and its predecessor, Preservation 2000, have
protected more than 2.4 million acres of land. These are not just lands "locked up" - they perform critically
important functions that protect water resources, working agriculture and military facilities, provide parks
and recreation and protect wildlife. To date, this includes 53,600 acres of springs and springsheds, 5,190 acres
of fragile coastline, 300,000 acres of sustainable forest lands and 158,700 acres of working agricultural lands.
So far, 42 counties and 28 cities have passed resolutions supporting Florida Forever, and more than 100
diverse organizations have joined the Florida Forever Coalition.
Florida has some of the most unique and
rare ecosystems and species in the world. Undermining Florida Forever increases the likelihood that remaining
natural ecosystems will be damaged, threatened species will lose essential habitat and some species could be
forced into extinction.
We are seeking a broad-based, unified effort to ensure the continuation of this
program, which is so critical to Florida's future. 1000 Friends of Florida is calling on all those who enjoy
open spaces, public parks and natural areas to join with us in the continuing effort to fund Florida Forever.
To join the coalition as an advocate, or to just stay appraised of current developments, go to
Contact your local legislator to let them know Florida Forever must
be a priority for 2010.
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