Florida State Capitol in Tallahassee, Florida.
Florida State Capitol in Tallahassee © Michael Rivera

Stories in Florida

Government Relations

Using our powerful voice to support conservation in the Sunshine State.

TNC 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. We engage with city, county, state and federal representatives, making recommendations to influence policy and keep nature at the forefront of decision-making.

TNC 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.

A Message from the Executive Director

Temperince Morgan, Executive Director of The Nature Conservancy in Florida.
Temperince Morgan TNC Florida executive director © Roberto Gonzalez

Governor DeSantis and the Florida Legislature have made their focus on conservation and support for the environment a priority, through the allocation of significant funding to programs that are critical to a sustainable future for our state and our health and well-being.

The passage of HB 7053 means Florida will now have a permanent Chief Resilience Officer in the Office of the Governor with the unanimous passage in the Senate of CS/HB 7053—Statewide Flooding and Sea Level Rise Resilience. The bill strengthens Florida’s commitment to addressing the effects of sea level rise and flooding, and we hope the Legislature and Governor build on this effort during the 2023 legislative session by also addressing the causes of climate change and other effects of climate change.

Thanks to the positive strides taken by Governor DeSantis and the Florida Legislature, conservation in our state continues to move in a productive direction.

With that said, HB 741 will constrain the growth of residential solar and be a deterrent to an expanded and resilient source of power for Floridians.

In Florida, nature isn’t out there—it’s right here. Together, we are responsible for securing a better quality of life for Floridians and the best possible future. It is now imperative to follow these achievements with action and begin implementation to secure the protection of Florida’s natural resources that we all depend upon.

Temperince Morgan
Executive Director
The Nature Conservancy in Florida

Policy

Senate Bill 1000 - Nutrient Application Rates
TNC works with farmers in Florida to support the implementation of the 4R Nutrient Stewardship program. The 4R Nutrient Stewardship program is:

  • Right source - Matches fertilizer type to crop needs.
  • Right rate - Matches amount of fertilizer to crop needs.
  • Right time - Makes nutrients available when crops need them.
  • Right place - Keeps nutrients where crops can use them.

TNC worked with the bill’s sponsor to enhance the bill to incorporate the 4Rs as applied to site-specific nutrient application to protect water quality and enhance crop yield.

HB 7053 – Statewide Flooding and Sea Level Rise Resilience
For years, TNC has advocated for a formalized statewide Chief Resilience Officer and this bill delivers. Additionally, the bill requires the state to complete comprehensive statewide flood vulnerability and sea level rise data set and assessment and requires the state to address the impacts of flooding and sea level rise on the State Highway System, and build on the Florida Legislature’s efforts to prepare Florida for the effects of sea level rise and flooding.

HB 741 – Net Metering
HB 741 is not good for the expansion of solar power generation in Florida. The bill will constrain the growth of residential solar, and be a deterrent to an expanded and resilient source of power for Floridians. The Legislature should support the deployment of renewable energy by all users including residents, businesses, local governments, schools, and other public facilities.

SB 2508 - Environmental Resources
This bill’s introduction was a complete surprise and was introduced as a “budget conforming bill” that only required one committee hearing, giving TNC very little time for outreach and lobby activities. Subsequent amendments removed problematic language that would have caused water management problems in south Florida. The bill makes substantial changes to the Rural and Family Lands program in Florida’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS).  TNC has supported the Rural and Family Lands program since introduction and helped farmers enroll and Florida has benefitted from this program. Starting in January 2023, when these changes take effect, TNC looks forward to working with the team at FDACS to implement the new Rural and Family Lands program to conserve Florida’s agricultural lands while improving water quality, habitat protections and ensuring agriculture remains a part of Florida’s landscape.

Appropriations

  • Funding in the Approved 2022 Florida Budget
    • Florida Forever - $100,000,000
    • Rural & Family Lands - $300,000,000
    • Everglades Restoration Total - $352,623,196
    • Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan - $202,123,196
    • Everglades Agricultural Area Reservoir  - $64,000,000
    • Restoration Strategies - $86,500,000
    • Northern Everglades - $73,276,213
    • C-51 Palm Beach County - $65,000,000
    • Preventing Discharges to Caloosahatchee/St. Lucie - $350,000,000
    • Innovative Technologies/Blue Green Algae - $15,000,000
    • Dispersed Water Storage - $5,000,000
    • Springs Restoration - $75,000,000
    • Wastewater Construction - $264,829,130
    • Wastewater Grant Program - $125,000,000
    • Total Maximum Daily Loads - $50,000,000
    • Local Water Projects - $368,380,383
    • Pensacola/Perdido Estuary Program Oyster - $495,000
    • Choctawhatchee Bay Oyster - $500,000
    • Bivalves to reduce nutrients FDEP Pilot - $4,000,000
    • Biscayne Bay Septic to Sewer - $20,000,000
    • Florida Keys - $20,000,000
    • Alt. Water Supply - $50,000,000
    • MFLs for NWFWMD & SRWMD - $3,446,000
    • Land Management by WMDS - $10,237,210
    • Div. of Forestry Land Management - $14,902,162
    • Div. of State Lands Land Management - $3,660,358
    • Parks Land Management - $2,847,747
    • Invasive Plant Management     $34,233,031
    • Regional Resilience Coalitions - $2,000,000
    • SLIP Tool - $2,900,000
    • Data Collection for Statewide Vulnerability Study - $7,100,000
    • Flood Hub - $5,500,000
    • Resilient Florida Planning Grants (from Resilient FL TF) - $20,000,000
    • Resilient Florida Flooding & SLR Resilience Plan - $270,874,990
    • Coral Reefs - $8,000,000
    • Mote Coral - $1,000,000
    • Beach Renourishment - $50,000,000
    • Florida Blue Economy - $320,000
2022 Florida Legislative Results Report

Download a .pdf version of TNC Florida Legislative Results report.

DOWNLOAD
A car drives through standing water in an intersection in the Brickell neighborhood in Miami.
Sunny Day Flooding Miami's Brickell neighborhood. © Wikimedia Creative Commons

Climate

Address and plan for climate change in the State of Florida

Advocates for the development a Climate Action Plan for the State of Florida that includes greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction strategies:

  • Support efforts from legislation and regional compacts to reduce GHG emissions.
  • Support legislation codifying and funding the position of Chief Resiliency Officer for the State of Florida.
  • Support legislation encouraging expansion of renewable energy including solar.
  • Support legislation and funding that supports planning for and deployment of electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure.
  • Legislative funding for the Florida Climate Institute to perform a risk assessment of Florida’s climate vulnerability which will support a state climate plan.
  • $2 million to FDACS to support the Sequestering Carbon and Protecting Florida Land Program.
Florida panther standing in front of a highway underpass wildlife crossing.
Florida Panther Florida panther crossing under SR80 via wildlife underpass © Carlton Ward Jr.

Land

Funding for Strategic Land Acquisition, Conservation Easements and Land Management

Future Florida 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.

During the 2022 Florida Legislative Session, The Nature Conservancy advocates for the following:

The Nature Conservancy's priorities in the Florida Wildlife Corridor – support for these identified projects:

  • Fisheating Creek Ecosystem
  • Caloosahatchee Ecoscape
  • Twelvemile Slough
  • Panther Glades
  • Devil’s Garden - remaining parcels
  • Lake Wales Ridge Ecosystem/Hendrie Ranch

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
Clear blue water with a forest shoreline at Manatee Spring in Florida.
Manatee Spring Fresh water spring in Florida © Lesley Bertolotti/TNC

Freshwater

  • Recommend a heightened standard of protection of our water bodies beyond Minimum Flows and Levels.
  • Support expansion of Septic to Sewer conversions statewide.
  • Support efforts of restoration of the Ocklawaha River.
Schooling porkfish gather under the protection of coral on a beautiful coral reef in Key Largo, Florida.
Coral Reef A coral reef in the Florida Keys. © Rachel Hancock Davis

Healthy Oceans

  • Support the continued funding for Panhandle Estuary Programs in Florida.
  • Support the UF/IFAS Oyster to Wild Harvest and Aquaculture Pilot Plan.
  • Support appropriations for coastal and marine restoration efforts.
Public wetland in Florida.
Public Greenspace An example of green stormwater infrastructure. © Lesley Bertolotti/TNC

Sustainable Development

A stand of palm trees at the end of tall wetland grass in the Fakahatchee Strand marshes of the Florida Everglades.
Everglades Fakahatchee Strand marshes comprise the River of Grass. © Jeff Ripple

Everglades

The Florida Chapter of The Nature Conservancy fully supports the decades-long history of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan and encourages the Federal government's funding of 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.