Landmark Conservation Legislation Renewed
Effective this month, the Florida Forever land acquisition and protection program got a new lease on life, following unanimous approval by the Florida Legislature. Encouraged by Governor Charlie Crist, the bill authorizes continued funding of $300 million per year throughout the coming decade to help protect wildlife and wetlands from encroaching development.
“Florida Forever protects the most special places in Florida: the rivers, lakes, parks and quiet natural areas,” notes a coalition led by Audubon of Florida, The Nature Conservancy, Florida Wildlife Federation, Defenders of Wildlife, 1000 Friends of Florida and the Trust for Public Land. It’s a huge victory for Florida’s panthers, gopher tortoises, black bears and 577 other struggling species. Of these, the state lists 98 as endangered, 41 as threatened and 17 of special concern.
One of the best land-buying programs in the country, Florida Forever has purchased 535,643 acres since its inception in July, 2001, bringing the state total to 2 million acres protected from bulldozers.