ACTION ALERT: Florida Conservation Coalition’s Bob Graham and Nat Reed ask for your help

 

Florida Conservation Coalition Founder and Chairman Bob Graham, and Vice-Chairman Nathaniel Pryor Reed, ask the public’s cooperation with an IMMEDIATE ACTION ALERT: Senate Bill 584 by Senator Hays states “The State may purchase land for conservation purposes only if an equal amount of public property not being held in conservation is returned or sold at fair market value to the private sector”.   This provision would also apply to counties and municipalities.  The bill would end Florida Forever and curtail conservation land acquisition in Florida.

While this bill reflects Senator Hay’s view of government, more worrisome is that it conveys the view of legions of legislators who agree with him.  Since he is chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on General Government that decides state environmental spending, the challenge is to persuade him to put funds in the budget for Florida Forever.  An equally difficult challenge is to find allies in the legislature who will tell the leadership that land conservation is a spending priority.

Just a few years ago most legislators were friends of land conservation.  Florida Forever and its successful predecessor Preservation 2000 were popular programs at home and in the Capitol.  Most of those friends are long gone from Tallahassee, and their seats are now occupied by new members of the House and Senate who feel that they were elected to solve economic, not environmental problems.

So, now we must find new friends and remind former allies that conservation is important.  Senators Thad Altman and Jack Latvala are champions.  But other Senators, who have been friends before, need to know that we care.  THAT will take serious local effort – linking need and constituencies with decision-makers.

Harsh criticism of Senator Hays may do more harm than good, and could even result in no appropriation of funds for Florida Forever.  A better strategy is to enlist new legislative friends and reinvigorate old ones to give land conservation the juice it used to have.

SB 584 offers an opportunity, not just to dissuade such an ill-conceived proposal, but, to make a persuasive argument for funding Florida Forever.

By all means, Florida Forever, the State’s nationally acclaimed land acquisition program is crucial to Florida’s future. It’s your voice that counts.

We ask that you contact Senator Hays and the  the members of the Senate Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee with a message in your own words or you may use this prepared message below to cut and paste into your email.

Email Addresses:

dean.charles.web@flsenate.gov, abruzzo.joseph.web@flsenate.gov,  altman.thad.web@flsenate.gov, bullard.dwight.web@flsenate.gov,  gardiner.andy.web@flsenate.gov, grimsley.denise.web@flsenate.gov, latvala.jack.web@flsenate.gov, simpson.wilton.web@flsenate.govsoto.darren.web@flsenate.gov, hays.alan.web@flsenate.gov

Subject: Reject Senate Bill 584 & Support Florida Forever

Message:

Dear Senator Hays and members of the Senate Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee,

I write to you about SB 584 which would diminish and probably curtail the acquisition of conservation land by the state and local governments.   The premise of the bill is difficult to understand, as it gives no reason.   Of greater concern than the language in the bill is the apparent attitude that acquisition of land for natural resources, water supply, and environmental protection is not in the public interest.  Such an attitude conflicts with reality in a growing state whose economy is based on its natural resources, which depend on public ownership for their long-term existence.    This attitude also conflicts with public opinion where the great majority of the public favors “Florida Forever” land acquisition.

You only need to ask anyone why they chose Florida as the place to live and visit, and natural beauty will always be part of the answer.  Ask them where the best of Florida is, and answer will probably be – a park, preserve, wildlife management area, remote natural area, or some place on the state’s “Florida Forever” list of lands scheduled for public acquisition and protection.

All the regulations and plans that have been and can be written will not protect Florida’s priceless natural resources.  Public acquisition is the only proven effective means of protecting our fish and wildlife, natural areas, and water supplies.  Facts are that public conservation property increases the value of private property in the surrounding areas, and that the people support conservation land acquisition.

I ask that you set aside SB 584 and give your attention and energy to something positive, something extremely important to Florida’s future – significant funding for “Florida Forever”.

Very respectfully, 

 

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