In 2014 an overwhelming 75% of Florida voters supported the passage of Amendment 1 which allocated a third of the tax on real estate documents to be used for purchasing and restoring conservation lands through programs like Florida Forever. Despite this clarion call from concerned citizens, Florida’s legislators have consistently refused to fund this program in the intended manner, instead siphoning off funds to pay for existing environmental programs previously paid for out of general revenue, and falling far short of the intended allocation for the purchase of conservation lands. Leading organizations in Florida’s environmental community are developing a game plan to advocate for Florida Forever funding in the manner intended in 2014. Find out how you can be part of the team.
Florida Forever Advocacy: A Game Plan for 2018 — Check out the Webinar Broadcast and PowerPoint — Senator Bob Graham, The Trust for Public Land’s Will Abberger, FCC’s Gladys Delgadillo, and 1000 Friends’ Ryan Smart and Vivian Young share strategies for Florida’s environmental groups and concerned citizens to support full funding for Florida Forever in 2018.
Share your recommendations — Complete this brief survey to share your suggestions on how to move forward. If you did not view the webinar broadcast, please skip the end section. Check out others’ recommendations.
(check “Resources” below for more information)
· Meet with your legislators before the 2018 session starts and help them understand how their district will benefit from funding Florida Forever. Ask legislators to champion a dedicated funding source for land conservation during the 2018 session. Ask them to collaborate on an op ed.
· Target your message to the legislator’s concerns and perspectives. Some are persuaded by logic while others by emotion. Politicians also likely focus on the political consequences of a decision. Prepare concise talking points to develop a convincing narrative. Provide visuals (photos or videos) when possible.
· Organize visits to conservation lands to share your love for natural Florida and why these lands are essential to Florida’s environment, economy and quality of life. Invite legislators, local elected officials, editorial board members and journalists. Make sure you have permission to visit the land and that the elected officials have agreed to having members of the media present.
· Work with your local elected officials to sponsor adoption of a resolution in support of a dedicated funding source for land conservation during the 2018 session. Ask them to have the local government make it one of their legislative priorities. Ask them to meet with legislators in support of funding. Ask them to collaborate on an op ed.
· Help organize a rally at a local conservation property with other interested organizations and individuals, and/or attend a rally.
· Attend your legislators’ town halls or delegation meetings. Find out the dates, share the word, prepare questions and attend.
· Write op eds or letters-to-the-editor, meet with your editorial board, or contact journalists with story ideas. Don’t forget about weekly and monthly local publications, talk radio, public radio, television stations with weekend public affairs programs.
· Share information on social media. If a post or article resonates with you, consider spending $5 to share it with friends of friends.
Find your legislators:
State Legislators — Enter your street address and city. For the purpose of Florida Forever, collect the contact information for your State Senator and Representative.
Local Elected Officials — Google the name of your city and “commissioner or councilor” and it should pull up the correct page. For county, Google the name of your county, Florida and “commissioner.”
Existing and Proposed Florida Forever Resources:
Florida Natural Areas Inventory Conservation Lands Map — This map includes existing and proposed Florida Forever lands and brief overviews. At the top right of the page, to the immediate right of “Map Help,” click on the “Layers” icon (it looks like a stack of paper). It will pull up Operational Layers and Reference Layers. Click on little arrow to the LEFT of Operational Layers and a drop down menu will appear. Florida Forever BOT Projects are ALL Florida Forever Projects, while Acquisitions is a subset showing those already acquired. You can zoom in and click and pull up information on each parcel.
Existing Florida Forever projects by county — This includes county lists and an alphabetical project list with links to fact sheets on each project.
Existing Florida Communities Trust Parks Directory — You can search by county or zip code to pull up links to parks acquired under the Florida Communities Trust Program. Additional information can be found at Trust for Public Lands Projects.
Florida 2070 — Scroll down to bottom of page to see the statewide Conservation 2010 Baseline map which includes projects as of 2010, and the statewide Conservation 2010 Alternative map which includes existing conservation lands as of 2016 plus all proposed Florida Forever, and all proposed Florida Greenways Priorities #1 and #2 lands.
Florida Conservation Voters Project Lists — This includes regional fact sheets on proposed projects. Scroll down on the page to Florida Forever Project Lists, which includes links to fact sheets for the following regions: Central Florida, Greater Tampa Bay, SW Gulf Coast, Southwest Florida, South Florida, Space & Treasure Coast, Northeast Florida, Northwest Florida
Major development projects:
Check with your city or county planning department to find out about projects under consideration in your community
Florida 2070 — Scroll down to see Development Scenarios for the Panhandle, Northeast, Central and South Florida. THESE ARE CONCEPTUAL MAPS showing areas most likely to develop over the coming decades. THEY DO NOT SHOW DEVELOPMENT THAT IS ACTUALLY PROPOSED.
Florida Conservation Coalition Florida Forever Talking Points — The FCC has prepared talking points
The Nature of Americans — Florida Report — Social scientists conducted a study of 2,530 adults, children, and parents in Florida throughout 2015-2016 and generated a 363-page Florida-specific report with results broken down by gender, ethnic background, age, and income. While this report focuses on conservation programs, not specifically land conservation, it provides valuable insights.
Economic Benefits of Conservation and Planning:
The Economic Benefits of Land Conservation in Florida — The Trust for Public Land provides an overview of economic benefits related to recreation, tourism, jobs, taxes, property values, community health and more.
Why Planning is an Effective Economic Development Tool — In 2011 1000 Friends of Florida outlined a series of economic benefits of sound planning, including that related to land conservation.
North Florida Land Trust Preservation Portfolio — The North Florida Land Trust has identified 112,346 acres of land in its seven county focus that is in critical need of preservation, including Baker, Clay, Duval, Flagler, Nassau, Putnam, and St. Johns Counties. The benefit of preserving these lands far outweighs the cost of acquisition. The price to acquire the land is $216,516,934, but the ecosystems benefits services is $413,430,739 annually. Ecosystem benefits services are defined as services provided by the natural environment that we would otherwise pay for; in short, it is what nature provides us for free. Preserving the land reduces or eliminates the need for storm water drainage or sewage treatment facilities, prevents or reduces flooding, provides fisheries and even provides areas for wildlife viewing. Wildlife viewing is a $4.9 billion a year industry in Florida.
Valuing Ecosystem Services in the Red Hills Region of Southwest Georgia & North Florida — According to this report by Tall Timbers Research Station, “economists estimated the total economic value of the ecosystem services provided by the private forest lands of the Red Hills at $1.136 billion per year. The estimated average value of ecosystem services per acre ranges from $600 to more than $11,900 annually, depending upon the forest characteristics on the site. Two of the most valuable ecosystem services in the Red Hills are water supply protection and groundwater recharge.