| In 2014, the Audubon network led the way in supporting the Water and Land Legacy Amendment, which passed overwhelmingly with 75 percent approval from Florida’s voters. Since 2001, more than 800,000 acres have been protected through the Florida Forever program, which enjoys broad public support statewide.|
This important funding source also supports projects that protect and restore our springs and rivers, coasts, and Everglades. This year, some of these include:
SB 320 (Sen. Harrell, R-Stuart) and HB 547 (Rep. Sirois, R-Merritt Island) require an annual appropriation of $50 million from the Land Acquisition Trust Fund to implement the Indian River Lagoon Comprehensive Conservation Management Plan, which would include capital improvement projects to reduce nutrients degrading water quality.
SB 602 (Sen. Burton, R-Lakeland) and HB 557 (Rep. Bell, R-Fort Meade) require an annual appropriation of $20 million to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) from the Land Acquisition Trust Fund to implement the Heartland Headwaters Protection and Sustainability Act (which is good) and finance the cost of water supply projects in Central Florida (which may be beyond the scope of voters’ intent for this funding).
SB 928 (Sen. Stewart, D-Orlando) and HB 559 (Rep. Roth, R-West Palm Beach) extend the retirement date of the bond to fund the Florida Forever Act but also revise the distributions for various programs funded by the Land Acquisition Trust Fund, with the biggest change being the $300 million set aside for the Rural and Family Lands Protection Program.
Water protection and restoration are important but local government obligations like wastewater and septic-to-sewer conversions have other funding sources and shouldn't take Land Acquisition Trust Fund dollars that voters intended for land and water protection and restoration.