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. TNC has the technical expertise to aid in state real estate transactions and stands ready to assist. And, funding and managing existing state lands should be a priority for the state.

2020 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. 

The Nature Conservancy strongly supports the environmental budget recommendations of Governor DeSantis.

Working with Legislators, Agencies, and the Governor, the Florida Chapter of The Nature Conservancy has identified the priorities for the 2020 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.

The Nature Conservancy extends its technical expertise to state agencies to execute existing real estate transactions.

During the 2020 Florida Legislative Session, The Nature Conservancy supports:

Florida Forever Rare and Critical Lands at $84 million

Rural and Family Lands at $32.6 million

Florida Communities Trust at $10 million

Land Management - Additional $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 - $45,000,000 and required coordination with FDEP and the Cabinet

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

  • Fisheating Creek
  • Caloosahatchee Ecoscape
  • Twelvemile Slough
  • Panther Glades
  • Devil’s Garden
Manatee Spring in Florida
Manatee Spring Fresh water spring in Florida © Lesley Bertolotti/TNC

Freshwater

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 funding 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. TNC encourages the Legislature to incentivize regional projects in the Northern Everglades that improve water quality and/or help manage flows into Lake Okeechobee and the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie estuaries.

  • Updates to Lake Okeechobee Regulation Schedule based on sound science.
  • Support legislation and funding, if filed, accelerating Lake Okeechobee projects, Aquifer Storage and Recovery.
Coral Reef
Coral Reef In the Florida Keys. © Rachel Hancock Davis

Healthy Coasts

Estuary Programs

Coral Reefs

  • Coral reef disease and restoration - additional funding is needed. What has been funded is appreciated but is not enough to address the issue.
  • SE FL "Coral Reef Ecosystem Conservation Area" - funding needed to develop the management plan for this area (formerly called the Box - St. Lucie Inlet to the northern boundary of the Biscayne National Park).
  • Coral Reef Messaging – FL coral reef system are the only coral reefs in the continental US. Messaging to make the case that these are not “Florida’s” coral reefs but rather the Nation’s coral reef system.

Disaster Funding & Fish Habitat/Fisheries

  • Allocate hurricane recovery funds for recovery of fish producing habitats, e.g., oysters, seagrass, mangroves.

Coastal Resilience

  • Increase funding for the use of natural infrastructure (NI).
  • Funding for NI pilot projects in conjunction with policy changes.
  • Funding for a statewide analysis to identify areas appropriate for living shorelines.
  • Support a comprehensive statewide Climate Plan with policy level resilience and greenhouse gas emission reduction strategies.
Sunny Day Flooding in Miami
Sunny Day Flooding Miami's Brickell neighborhood. © Wikimedia Creative Commons

Climate

  • Statewide Action Plan identifying adaptation and mitigation for long-term weather changes.
  • Support legislation recognizing regional climate compacts as authorized to receive state funds for adaptation and mitigation planning and projects.
  • Support funding for preparation of a Florida Climate Assessment by the Florida Climate Institute.
  • Support legislation encouraging utility-scale and rooftop solar and oppose all efforts to curtail either.
  • Support policies enacted by Florida and local governments to encourage the deployment of solar energy in Florida by utilities, local governments, universities, public facilities, businesses and residents.
  • Support legislation authorizing public universities to competitively procure solar energy through RFPs/PPAs.
  • Support legislation and funding that supports planning for and deployment of EV infrastructure. Support state and regional efforts to identify gaps and plan for EV infrastructure deployment. Oppose legislation that imposes unreasonable registration fees on EVs vehicle registration.
  • 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 local urban projects that incorporate green infrastructure to improve water quality and resiliency of urbanized coastal shorelines, improve air quality and reduce urban heat island effect.
  • Support legislation that sets stringent controls towards the development and re-development in the coastal storm areas.
  • Support legislation that integrates green infrastructure with transit-oriented development plans.
  • Support FDOT to prioritize green infrastructure in design, construction, reconstruction/repair of public highways.
  • Support disaster recovery funds that invest in the managed relocation of properties that have experienced repetitive loss, into adaptation areas that can increase flood storage and create new green space.
  • Prioritize public health funding that supports studies, research and projects linking nature-based solutions to increased health and wellness benefits.
  • Support disaster recovery funds in areas that can help disadvantaged communities better adapt to climate change.
  • Prioritize the investment in resilience hubs to help serve the community in disaster preparation and response, helping to address the most disadvantaged communities’ resilience challenges.

Projects

  • Support funding for green infrastructure projects in Miami-Dade County and The City of Miami along critical transportation corridors, greenways and waterways, as outlined in the Strategic Miami Area Rapid Transit Plan and the Resilient305 Strategy, to leverage existing infrastructure, and to support a more comprehensive, proactive and prepared future population. Support funding for The Nature Conservancy's Cities Project, the Wagner Creek Greenspace Project in Allapattah and Miami's Health District.