Florida State Capitol
Florida State Capitol in Tallahassee © Michael Rivera

Stories in Florida

Government Relations

Using Our Powerful Voice to Support Conservation

The Nature Conservancy in Florida accomplishes so much through our projects and programs across the state, while providing sound science and expertise to those in government who prioritize and act on our conservation challenges. 

The Conservancy shares conservation messages with legislators to empower positive action and thoughtful discussion. We meet regularly with state and federal elected officials on issues important to the future of nature and people. In their own districts and beyond, representatives have joined us outdoors to get a first-hand look at issues, natural systems, and management. Officials have joined us at our preserves, in the water, and even onsite for prescribed fire among the longleaf pines. There’s nothing like experiencing nature close-up to gain a deeper understanding and a feeling of ownership that encourages protection, conservation, and the allocation of much needed funds.

State of Florida Policy Positions

  • Include natural solutions in planning to support healthy waters: Understand the value of and expand the use of green infrastructure, vegetation and other naturally occurring ecological features, to benefit water quality and water quantity.
  • Allocate funding to protect and restore Florida’s natural systems: Ensure consistent long-term appropriations to address EvergladesFlorida springs, rivers, and lakes restoration efforts.
  • Tackle stormwater and septic challenges: Collaborate with local governments to address sources of pollution including stormwater runoff and septic tanks.
  • Carefully consider land use effects on our waters: Further recognize the value of water as a limited and essential resource, when weighing land use alternatives and impacts.
  • Increase reuse and recycling of water: Continue to develop and expand water and wastewater reuse to more fully recycle our water supply to meet the demands of a growing Florida population and tourism industry.
  • Land acquisitions and conservation easements: Address strategic needs such as connecting wildlife corridors, enhancing water quality and water storage, or provide buffers to existing state-owned lands.  And, funding and managing existing state lands should be a priority for the state.

2019 Florida Legislative Platform

The Nature Conservancy government relations team continues to build support and find innovative ways to reach lawmakers who can help us protect land and water, tackle climate change, provide food and water sustainably, build healthy cities, and connect people and nature. We engage with city, county, state and federal representatives, making recommendations to influence policy and keep nature at the forefront of decision-making. 

Working with Legislators, Agencies, and the Governor, the Florida Chapter of The Nature Conservancy has identified these priorities for the 2019 Legislative Session. 

Florida Panther
Florida Panther Roaming in the wild. © fStop Foundation

Land

Funding for Land Management, Conservation Easements and Strategic Land Acquisition

Florida has over 9 million acres in conservation, future land acquisitions should address strategic needs such as connecting wildlife corridors, enhancing water quality and water storage, or provide buffers to existing state-owned lands.  

Conservation easements, like those in the Rural and Family Lands Protection Program, are invaluable to keeping agriculture vibrant in Florida and ensuring the long-term sustainability of our precious Florida land.  

Additionally, it is important to maintain the conservation lands the State of Florida owns.  It would be appropriate to provide a portion of Florida Forever funds, and any state appropriations, to address the backlog on land management work desperately needed on state lands.

During the 2019 Florida, Legislative Session, The Nature Conservancy supports:

Florida Forever Rare and Critical Lands- $150 million (with $50 million specifically directed to less-than-fee category)

Rural and Family Lands - $50 million

Florida Communities Trust - $10 million

Land Management - $30 million to FDEP and grow agency land management funding in:

  • Division of Forestry
  • DEP DSL Land Management
  • DEP Parks Land Management
  • Water Management Districts
  • Greenways CARL Land Management
  • FWC land management, including Invasive Plant Management

Land Acquisition Priority

  • Bluffs of St. Teresa – 17,080 acres MOL, Franklin County, Apalachicola Watershed.
  • Estimated cost - $50,000,000 and required coordination with FDEP and the Cabinet)

Florida Panther Corridor – support for Florida Forever, specifically these identified projects:

  • Fisheating Creek (including Lykes/Chaparral Slough)
  • Caloosahatchee Ecoscape
  • Twelvemile Slough
  • Panther Glades
  • Devil’s Garden
Florida Springs
Manatee Spring Florida © Lesley Bertolotti

Fresh Water

·      Supporting the outcomes from the Potable Reuse Commission.

Fakahatchee Strand marshes
Everglades Fakahatchee Strand marshes comprise the River of Grass. © Jeff Ripple

Everglades

The Florida Chapter of The Nature Conservancy fully supports the 20-year history of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan and encourages the Federal government to fund Congressionally authorized projects.  Keeping focused on projects that are already planned and authorized for construction is the most effective way to assure that Everglades restoration stays on track because the projects are sequenced based on science to achieve the quickest ecosystem benefits.

  • Herbert Hoover Dike Rehabilitation Support.
  • Updates to Lake Okeechobee Regulation Schedule.
  • Support legislation and funding, if filed, accelerating Lake Okeechobee projects, deep-well injection and the EAA Reservoir.
Coral Reef
Coral Reef In the Florida Keys. © Rachel Hancock Davis

Healthy Coasts

Coral Reefs

  • Support funding for next phase of monitoring/preparation of a management plan for SE Florida coral reef conservation area.
  • Additional funding to support direct intervention in the disease outbreak for routine/intensified disease surveillance and in-water treatments to slow the progression of the disease.
  • The National Estuary Programs (NEPs) and Panhandle Estuary Programs are coordinating on a bill that will provide recurring funding for the NEPs and EPs as well as startup funds for the St. Andrew/St. Joe Estuary Program.  The Panhandle Estuary Programs will seek sponsors for their bill that will provide $250,000 annually for two years supporting Panhandle Estuary Programs as well as seek support for a Legislative Budget Request from state agencies for the same amount and purpose. We will support this bill as well as help identify key sponsors and build support.

Coastal Resilience

  • Support Southeast Florida Climate Compact priority to fund natural infrastructure to address sea level rise.
  • Support state efforts to recover oyster fisheries/resources that advance comprehensive management approaches by integrating the full suite of services provided by reefs in the management of the fishery.
  • Support efforts to improve water quality of our estuaries and nearshore waters through funding to local governments for septic tank retrofits, septic to sewer conversions and other mechanisms that reduce/eliminate contaminants/nutrients to our waters.

Support on-going work to end wastewater ocean outfalls by 2020 and expedite where possible.

  • As a member of the Florida Ocean Alliance (FOA), support FOA’s funding proposal for a Coastal Resilience and Economic Analysis of Florida’s Ocean and Coastal Assets.
Sunny Day Flooding in Miami
Sunny Day Flooding Miami's Brickell neighborhood. © Wikimedia Creative Commons

Climate

  • Support legislation encouraging utility-scale and rooftop solar and oppose all efforts to curtail either.
  • Support legislation authorizing public universities to competitively procure solar energy through RFPs/PPAs (with assigned utility given the right of first refusal to provide the solar capacity as stated in RFP before moving to other providers).
  • Support legislation and funding that supports planning for and deployment of EV infrastructure.
  • Support finance options for residents, businesses, and local governments including grants, rebate programs, tax credits and Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) programs and include flood mitigation as an eligible PACE activity.
  • Support the promotion and integration of climate change adaptation projects and natural solutions/infrastructure in disaster mitigation and recovery planning and projects.
  • Support state efforts to encourage/require that climate adaptation measures, including the use of natural solutions/infrastructure, be integrated in pre-disaster mitigation projects and post-disaster rebuilding projects funded through the Pre-Disaster Mitigation Program, Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, Flood Mitigation Program, Stafford Act, and Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery Program.
  • Work with energy stakeholders on energy efficiency and solar rules at the Florida Public Service Commission.
  • Support initiatives to embed climate and weather risks into all new coastal development.
  • Biomass generated energy and biofuel supplementation of traditional fuel sources need to be in the toolbox developed to reduce emissions. However, our support is for prioritizing development of strategies for emissions reduction that will contribute significantly to the reduction and not result in greater threat to the human or biological system. TNC supports the use of appropriately sized, sited, and operated biomass energy facilities.
Miami's Wagner Creek
Wagner Creek Miami's Health District © Lou Lozada/Vodagraph

Cities

  • Support any legislation that prioritizes state investments in innovative stormwater infrastructure – green infrastructure, rain gardens, green roofs, permeable pavement, etc.
  • FDOT to prioritize green infrastructure in design, construction, reconstruction/repair of public highways.
  • Support energy and water efficiency in affordable housing and low-income housing investments and policies. 
  • Legislation that supports the repurposing of vacant lots for stormwater runoff.
  • Align with Miami-Dade County, City of Miami, City of Coral Gables, and the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce on legislative priorities that support sea level rise planning, innovative stormwater management policies, energy/water efficiency, transit-oriented development plans (SMART Plan) as an effective smart-growth management policy.

Projects

  • Wagner Creek: Assess existing funds that could be allocated for restoration project, or the creation of a specific appropriation line item.