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YOUR HELP IS NEEDED: Amendment will Protect Florida’s Water and Natural Areas

9/14/2012

An effort is now underway to restore Florida’s leadership on water and land conservation. Florida’s Water and Land Legacy, a coalition of the state’s leading conservation organizations including The Sierra Club, The Trust for Public Land, Audubon Florida, Florida Wildlife Federation, and many others, has launched a campaign to place the Florida Water and Land Conservation Amendment on the November 2014 ballot.

The Florida Water and Land Conservation Amendment would dedicate funds from existing revenues generated by real estate transactions to continue Florida’s legacy of restoring critical natural areas, like the Everglades, and protecting Florida’s magnificent waters and lands for future generations.

Florida has a proud legacy of conserving the water quality of our lakes, rivers and springs and acquiring lands necessary to protect drinking water sources that has historically transcended party politics. For the past four decades every Governor, including Governors Graham, Martinez, Chiles,
Bush and Crist, has made it priority. Thanks to their leadership popular programs like Florida Forever
and its predecessor Preservation 2000 have successfully protected over 2.4 million acres of critical water resources, natural areas, wildlife habitat, parks, greenways, and trails throughout Florida.

Yet since 2009, funding for the Florida Forever program has been essentially eliminated, being slashed by 97.5 percent. This year the legislature allocated only $8.5 million to protect important water protection areas and conservation lands. Compared to the state budget of $60 billion, that
means that for every dollar the state spends in 2012, less than two-hundredths of a penny went to the Florida Forever program. That’s less than $1 for every Floridian.

Through a constitutional amendment Floridians can assure that adequate funding is dedicated solely to restoring critical natural areas, like the Everglades, and protecting Florida’s magnificent waters and lands for future generations. We understand the value of clean and abundant water for people and wildlife, and cherish the natural areas that make Florida special. That’s why the amendment would
ensure that these values have a place in our state’s constitution.

For decades a documentary stamp tax (a fee on real estate transactions) has been assessed in Florida to pay for important programs including land conservation and affordable housing. Through a state constitutional amendment one-third of the existing “Doc stamps” would be directed to fund water and land conservation, management, and restoration, providing an estimated $5 billion
for conservation in Florida over the next ten years and $10 billion over the twenty-year life of the amendment. This is our best hope to create a stable and long-term funding for conservation and restoration.

With almost 2 million acres of important water protection areas, beaches, springs and other vital natural areas that remain vulnerable to unwise development decisions and deep funding cuts, this amendment is our best hope to create a stable and long-term funding for conservation
and restoration. It will take one million signatures to place the amendment on the ballot.

To meet this challenge we will need an army of volunteers throughout the state gathering signatures in their community. Join the campaign and get involved by signing up to volunteer at www.floridawaterlandlegacy.org/volunteer .

To learn more about Florida’s Water and Land Legacy campaign visit www.floridawaterlandlegacy.org and ‘like” them on Facebook.

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