TPL Praises Florida Forever Protection

FLORIDA, 2/26/03:The Trust for Public Land (TPL) today praised Governor Jeb Bush and the Florida Cabinet for their passage of a resolution that increases protection of the Preservation 2000 and Florida Forever programs.

The resolution deposits reserve funds into the Florida Forever and Preservation 2000 trust funds, blocking a move that legislators used last year to divert those reserve dollars and put them in the general revenue fund. The governor ultimately vetoed the transfer of the funds in last year’s budget.

“If the Florida Legislature wants to use this money for anything other than the protection of our land and waters, they will have to transfer it from an environmental trust fund to do it and break a promise to the people of Florida,” said Kathy Baughman, government affairs director for TPL’s southeast region.

Baughman pointed out that conserving land is a priority for Floridians. In 1998, 73 percent of Florida voters approved Amendment 5, a change to the State Constitution that gave the Legislature authority to enact Florida Forever, the land conservation program that protects the state’s land, water and parks.

“We applaud the Governor’s vision and commitment to Florida’s land-buying programs,” Baughman said. “Governor Bush has understood from day one that protecting the places our residents and visitors cherish makes good sense, not just environmentally but from an economic standpoint as well.”

“Our tourism engine is driven in large part by people’s desire to see natural Florida – our glorious beaches, sparkling rivers and canopied forests. Florida Forever and P2000 have preserved more than a million acres in the past 10 years, in the face of tremendous development pressure.”