By Preston Robertson, Sarah Owen Gledhill and Jay Liles
Everglades Restoration: The Florida Legislature agreed to build a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee with $64 million approved in the budget (Senate Bill 10). An additional $210 million is also allocated in the budget passed today. Thank you for all your calls and emails! FWF and its allies have been supporting the reservoir which will diminish polluted discharges to our estuaries and help to rehydrate the Biscayne Bay, the Everglades and Florida Bay.
Governor Scott is expected to sign the bill into law on May 11th.
Conservation Land Funding: Despite all your calls and emails, the Florida Legislature has again ignored the will of the people by zeroing out Florida Forever in the 2017-2018 budget. Funds were allocated for Florida’s springs ($50 million) and $10 million for protecting rural and family lands, but no money for buying environmentally sensitive lands.
The lack of political will in Tallahassee to fund the Florida Forever program is the exact reason why the Florida Wildlife Federation is in litigation against the Legislature over the misappropriation of Amendment 1 funds (the 2014 Water and Land Legacy Amendment) which was approved by 75% of voters.
Customary Use: “Customary use” is, very simply, the concept that as the public has long used an area (in this case, our beaches), it is open to the public. A bill to impair that concept was introduced, but thankfully the Session ended before this misguided bill could get any traction. The Federation anticipates anti-customary use language coming back next year. We will work with our allies to prevent passage of such language.
We now wait and see what the Governor vetoes.
Thank you for all your help over the past few weeks!
Your FWF Legislative Advocacy Team