FL Legislature Approves Budget, Funds for Conservation

TALLAHASSEE, May 5, 2006 – The Trust for Public Land today hailed the State Legislature for approving the funding of the Florida Forever Program and other key programs in the 2006-2007 State budget.

“We applaud the leadership and the members of the Florida Senate and House for their vision for and support of Florida Forever,” said Greg Chelius, Florida State Director of The Trust for Public Land. “We are making important investments in the important places and landscapes of Florida.”

The budget highlights include:

  • Appropriation of $300 million in General Revenue for the Florida Forever program, including the full $66 million for Florida Communities Trust;
  • Provision for a separate $310 million in General Revenue for the State’s purchase of Babcock Ranch, and the passage of an accompanying bill to manage the property;
  • More than $30 million for the Florida Recreation Development Assistance Program (FRDAP); and
  • More than $200 million in additional funding for specific high-priority conservation and environmental projects, including $135 million for the Everglades.

The combined funding for Florida Forever, Babcock Ranch, and the Everglades may represent the largest amount spent by any state for land conservation in a single year.

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 alone that is necessary to create and improve parks and recreational facilities sufficient for Florida’s surging population.

For more information on the challenges before Florida Forever, please see www.tpl.org/floridaforever.

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.