Audubon Florida
The Advocate
Legislative committee meetings began this week in the run-up to the January 2024 Legislative Session. At the end of each committee week and each week of the session, you can count on Audubon to keep you up to speed on the issues facing Florida’s environment. Stay tuned— we will let you know when your voice can make a real difference.

Our commitment to funding for natural resources agencies, landmark conservation land-buying programs, investment in resource protection, and Everglades and freshwater spring restoration are among our highest priorities.
Black skimmers fly over a beach, with water in the background.
House and Senate Committee Assignments
Committee lists were finalized in September in anticipation of the start of interim committee weeks for Sessions in 2024 and 2025. While all Floridians’ voices are important for influencing legislation, if your state representative or senator sits on key committees that hear environmental bills, your voice can be especially powerful on behalf of Florida’s wildlife and wild lands.

In these early days of legislative season, make sure you know who your representative and senator are and check their committee assignments. If your elected officials sit on any of the below committees, your voice is especially important this year.

The Florida Constitution directs the Legislature to redraw district boundaries at its regular session in the second year following each decennial census. The location of district lines determines who your representative is. Our state went through a major redistricting exercise last year, and we encourage you to look up your state senator and representative here.


Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Environment, and General Government
Environment and Natural Resources
Select Committee on Resiliency
Regulated Industries


Agriculture & Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee
Infrastructure Strategies Committee
Agriculture, Conservation & Resiliency Subcommittee
Transportation & Modals Subcommittee
Water Quality, Supply & Treatment Subcommittee
State Affairs
Black Skimmers.
American Flamingos stand in the shallows.
Agencies Make Budget Requests
Last week, our state agencies made their respective legislative budget requests for the next fiscal year.  Highlights of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Florida Department of Agriculture budgets can be viewed below.

We are gratified to see a robust environmental budget request from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to help them carry out their charge.  Everglades restoration is a priority for both the state and the federal government, and this is the largest Everglades budget request ever made by DEP.

Importantly, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ funding request will support the implementation of Best Management Practices to reduce run-off and protect water quality.  To carry out the requirements in the Clean Waterways Act, the agency needs these resources to protect water quality.
American Flamingos. Photo: Holley Short.
FDACS budget request

DEP budget request
Western Sandpiper walking in the shallow water with its wings outstretched.
Committee Meetings
To kick-off the first interim committee week, the Water Quality, Supply and Treatment Subcommittee (Chair, Rep. Cyndi Stevenson (R-St. Johns)), met on Tuesday to hear presentations from DEP and the St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD).

Deputy Secretary Jessica Kramer of DEP outlined key programs that regulate and manage our state’s surface waters and wetlands, including the Submerged Lands and Environmental Resources Coordination Program, in charge of implementation of the state’s Environmental Resource Permitting Program.

Kristine Wentzel of the SJRWMD discussed mitigation banks. A mitigation bank is a wetland, stream, or other aquatic resource area that has been restored, established, enhanced, or (in certain circumstances) preserved for the purpose of providing compensation for unavoidable impacts to aquatic resources permitted under Section 404 or a similar state or local wetland regulation. Florida has a total of 131 mitigation banks that today cover almost 227,500 acres of land around the state. With development at an all-time high in Florida, the state is considering adding another 30 mitigation banks to the number available today.

Committee presentations on this topic indicate we will likely see legislation in the 2024 session that addresses wetland mitigation.

Audubon’s goal is to ensure Florida’s environmental policies foster a landscape of diverse, sustainable habitats that can meet the needs of common and imperiled species, both resident and migratory. Robust water management and wetland protection policies are critical, and we will work with the legislature to ensure all aspects of wetland functions are considered in any updates to our wetland protection programs.
Western Sandpiper. Photo: Tom Ingram/Audubon Photography Awards.
A Northern Bobwhite sits on a log and sings, with blue sky in the background.
Conservation Win
Great news! This week, the State of Florida approved more than 40,000 acres for conservation as part of the Florida Forever and Rural and Family Lands Protection Programs.

"Audubon celebrates these important conservation land acquisitions and the progress they represent. In the last few years, the Governor and Legislature have made a commitment to landscape-scale conservation with substantial, consistent funding. The result has been the Trustees' ability to pick up the pace, delivering more high quality acquisitions like these, quickly and transparently, protecting the places essential to Florida's water, wildlife, and resiliency. Leadership like this on behalf of our natural resources is essential to Floridians' well-being and prosperity."

~ Julie Wraithmell, Executive Director, Audubon Florida.
Northern Bobwhite. Photo: Thomas Hellinger/Audubon Photography Awards.
Sign up for our climate newsletter.
Audubon Florida
4500 Biscayne Blvd., Suite 350, Miami, FL 33137
(305) 371-6399 |

© 2024 National Audubon Society, Inc.