FL Governor’s Funding for Conservation Praised

TALLAHASSEE, February 1, 2006 – The Trust for Public Land today hailed Governor Bush for the funding of the Florida Forever Program and for the purchase of Babcock Ranch contained in his proposed 2006-2007 budget.

Greg Chelius, TPL State Director, said: “Governor Bush has again made a major investment in Florida’s future by fully funding Florida Forever. $300 million for Florida Forever is extremely important to the creation of parks, access to beaches, and so many other public open spaces for future generations of Floridians. Doing so with General Revenue makes good fiscal sense and will save taxpayers’ money.

“Paying for Babcock Ranch with General Revenue today also is fiscally smart. In addition, paying for Babcock Ranch apart from Florida Forever saves precious conservation dollars necessary for all of Florida.

“Major challenges remain for Florida Forever. Even before the protection of Babcock Ranch was a possibility, Florida Forever was creaking under the weight of skyrocketing land prices and overwhelming demand for conservation funding across Florida. We must continue to work diligently with Governor Bush, the Cabinet, and the Legislature to find ways to meet the unprecedented demands for Florida Forever funding,” concluded Chelius.

On January 11, the Florida Forever Coalition – including TPL and seven other statewide and national conservation organizations – released a pair of reports that demonstrate the need for over $18 billion in funding to protect Florida’s future by buying land for parks, the protection of natural resources, recreation, and many other public benefits. $18.3 billion represents the total necessary funding from a range of sources – the state’s Florida Forever Program, cities and counties, federal agencies, and charities – to meet Florida’s parks and open space needs.

One report, “Florida Parks in the 21st Century: A Sound Investment for a Growing State,” co-produced by TPL, the Florida Recreation and Park Association, and the Florida League of Cities, identifies the $8.3 billion that is necessary to create and improve parks and?recreational facilities sufficient for Florida’s surging population. The other report, “Protecting Wild Florida: Preserving the Best and Last Wilderness of Florida, Forever,” produced by The Nature Conservancy, documents that $10 billion that is needed to protect threatened and endangered plants, animals, wildlife habitat, clean water, and other ecosystem functions across Florida.

For more information on the challenges before Florida Forever, please see https://www.tpl.org/state/florida.

The Trust for Public Land (TPL) is a national nonprofit land conservation organization that conserves land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, historic sites, rural lands, and other natural areas, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. Since its founding in 1972, TPL has helped protect more than 2 million acres of land in 46 states. In Florida, TPL has protected more than 300 sites – over 200,000 acres at a market value of about $500 million. The Trust for Public Land depends on the support and generosity of individuals, foundations, and businesses to achieve our land for people mission. For more information please contact us at 850.222.7911 or visit us on the web at www.tpl.org.