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Push for Amendment to Protect Florida's Environment

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PHOTO: Tates Hell State Forest, a Florida Forever project.
PHOTO: Tates Hell State Forest, a Florida Forever project.
October 8, 2012

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Efforts continue to pass an amendment to Florida's state constitution to protect annual funding for environmental protection and restoration. The Florida Land and Legacy Campaign is working through a petition drive to put an amendment on the November 2014 ballot to guarantee annual funding for land and water conservation.

Laurie Macdonald, Florida program director of Defenders of Wildlife, says annual funding will help environmental groups focus on the task at hand.

"It has taken a great effort for, especially the conservationists, to go back to the legislature every year and advocate again for the program."

The amendment, if passed, would allocate one-third of the money collected from the existing excise tax on documents to help restore lost funding to the Florida Forever Program. Since 2009, lawmakers have cut funding for the program by more than 97 percent.

Since 1994 there have been six amendments to the state constitution regarding environmental protection, and five of them passed. Will Abberger with the Trust for Public Lands emphasizes this amendment would not cost taxpayers more money.

"This is not a tax increase. We're just taking the historical funding source that's always been used for land conservation and dedicating it. The legislature won't be able to use the funds for any other purpose."

Based on current projections, the Florida Land and Legacy Campaign estimates the amendment would generate $5 billion for conservation and restoration of land and water resources over the next 10 years.

More information on the campaign may be found at http://floridawaterlandlegacy.org.

Stephanie Carroll Carson, Public News Service - FL