Amendment 1 Sponsors Gather in Tallahassee to Celebrate 5-Year Anniversary; Encourage Legislature to Fully Fund Florida Forever

This time five years ago, Florida voters overwhelmingly approved the Water and Land Conservation Amendment (“Amendment 1”) and effectively added it to the state constitution. With about 75% approval across the state, Florida voters sent a clear message they wanted dedicated funds to protect Florida’s water, wildlife habitat, natural areas, and parks, now and for future generations.

With a straightforward allocation of 33% of documentary stamp taxes directed to the Land Acquisition Trust Fund, the self-implementing constitutional mandate was intended to restore funding to existing programs like Florida Forever, Florida’s Community Trust Program, The Rural & Family Lands Protection Program and Everglades restoration.

While protecting Florida’s land and water was the #1 goal of the ballot initiative, the campaign was a testament to the power of democracy. Unfortunately, the Florida Legislature has redirected most of the annual funding to support agency operational expenses previously covered by general revenue.

Where do we go from here? The passage of Amendment 1 was a monumental success, but the work isn’t done. The Florida Legislature must finish the job:

  • Florida’s population is growing and our one-of-kind natural resources are coming under immense development pressure. Legislators need to protect these key tracts before they are lost forever. The best way to do that is by fully funding Florida Forever and the other land conservation programs.
  • Florida Forever was signed into law by Governor Jeb Bush in 1999, reauthorized by the Florida Legislature in 2008, and until 2009 received $300 million annually. When funded, Florida Forever was highly successful in acquiring lands that protect the water quality of rivers, lakes, and springs, wildlife habitat, and provide healthy outdoor recreation opportunities for all Floridians. We want to see Florida Forever funding restored and take full advantage of this tried-and-true conservation program.
  • Many priority tracts identified for conservation under Florida Forever remain unprotected and are vulnerable to poorly planned development. If we do not fully fund Florida Forever now, we stand to lose two million acres of precious water and land, including outstanding lands in the Red Hills region.

Tall Timbers has joined other conservation, ranching, forestry and sportsmen’s communities to collectively support Florida’s proud tradition of land conservation funding. We urge you to take action now by contacting Governor DeSantis and your Florida state representatives to support full funding of Florida’s land conservation programs.

PHOTO CAPTION: Tall Timbers staff Shane Wellendorf (L) and Kevin McGorty (R) join other conservation leaders in celebration of the 5th anniversary of Amendment 1 at the Florida Capitol. Photo courtesy Florida Conservation Voters, who sponsored the press conference.


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