Florida forever

brklynnnovember via Flickr Creative Commons

The results of Florida’s 2018 Legislative Session, which ended earlier this month, were a mixed bag when it comes to priorities for the state’s environmental advocates.  Governor Rick Scott’s budget priorities prior to the start of session came out strongly in favor of environmental issues, and in the end lawmakers appropriated $100 million for the state’s primary conservation land-buying program, “Florida Forever.”  Although that amount is less than what environmental advocates had been hoping for, it is still an improvement over the zero dollars allocated to the program in 2017.  Meanwhile, a proposed ban on hydraulic fracturing, or ‘fracking’,(HB237 /SB462) went down in defeat for another year.  Lawmakers also approved a measure (SB1402/HB7043) that transfers wetland protection authority in the federal Clean Water Act away from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and into the hands of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.  Proponents say the move clears away unnecessary red tape for development permitting, but opponents worry it will reduce environmental review and protections for the state’s sensitive wetlands.  We’ll get perspective from Audubon Florida’s interim Executive Director Julie Wraithmell and the Conservancy of Southwest Florida’s Environmental Policy Director Nicole Johnson.

Lawmakers Funnel $100 Million To Florida Forever

Mar 12, 2018

Neglected for nearly a decade, the Florida Forever conservation program would get $100.8 million in a proposed $88.7 billion budget that lawmakers are expected to approve Sunday.

Rep. Ben Albritton, a Wauchula Republican who chairs the House Agriculture & Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee, said most of the money would go for land preservation.

“We started at a much lower number for Florida Forever here in the House,” Albritton said. “Thank goodness, in conference (negotiations), we raised that number significantly.”

Senate Passes Florida Forever Funding Package

Feb 1, 2018

Over the last three years, Florida Forever has not been the titan of land preservation it once was. The conservation program has seen significant cutbacks in funding, and has lost its effectiveness in continuing to protect the state’s vast landscape. But, a bill in the Florida Senate reestablishes Florida Forever as the model of land preservation it once was.


Since 2001 Florida has protected more than 2.4 million acres of land through the Florida Forever program. And in 2014 75% of voters said they want tax money to go toward land conservation. Yet, lawmakers have zeroed out Florida Forever funding for three years in a row. We’ll take a look at the history, and future, of Florida Forever with the Nature Conservancy's Land Program Manager, Lindsay Stevens, and Will Abberger, director of The Trust for Public Land’s Conservation Finance service.

Quincy J Walters / WGCU News

This week, Governor Rick Scott announced tax cuts he'd like to have in place for next year. But he also recently said he wants to spend almost $2 billion dollars on environmental projects.