Tuesday, Senator Linda Stewart, D-Orlando, and Representative Thad Altman, R-Indian Harbour Beach, filed legislation that would provide a stable funding floor for land conservation and would reaffirm the legislature’s commitment to purchasing environmentally sensitive lands.
The bills, SB 1510 and HB 1211, require a specified annual appropriation of $100 million to the Florida Forever program from the Land Acquisition Trust Fund (LATF), and would also extend the bonding authority for the Florida Forever program.
“It is time that the legislature honors the will of Floridians and establishes recurring funds for the purpose of conservation. While Florida continues to grow, we must be mindful of the need to preserve the state’s environment for the wellbeing and enjoyment of future generations,” said Stewart.
Florida Forever is the largest public land acquisition program of its kind in the United States and with more than 869,477 acres of land purchased, the bill would provide the funding to maintain this extensive program.
Florida Forever encompasses an immense range of goals encompassing water resource development and supply, increased public access, public lands management and maintenance, and increased protection of land by the acquisition of conservation easements.
“With a thousand people moving to Florida every day, we must continue to acquire the necessary lands to meet our State’s future environmental and recreational needs,” said Altman.