Florida Forever

Ryan Benk / WJCT News

Florida Governor Rick Scott Tuesday unveiled his last budget proposal as the state’s chief executive in Jacksonville.

Scott said it represents a historic investment across the board.


Kate Payne via WFSU

A measure that would double the amount Gov. Rick Scott wants to spend on the state's most-prominent land preservation program has been easily approved during its first Senate committee.

Ryan Benk / WJCT News

Florida Governor Rick Scott stopped by the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens Monday extolling his proposal for $1.7 billion in environmental funding next year — a more than $200 million boost from the current year.

But some critics are questioning the governor’s motive for the funding increase. Environmental groups who’ve traditionally been at odds with Scott are tepidly supportive of the governor’s proposal.


John Moran

Environmentalists unhappy with Florida lawmakers are vowing to keep fighting over this year’s lack of funding for land acquisition under the state’s Water and Land Conservation Amendment.

The activist group — 1000 Friends of Florida — said Wednesday it plans to make conservation funding a priority in the 2018 legislative session.

A key component of the strategy involves mobilizing the citizenry, says the group’s Ryan Smart.

The Florida Legislature might vote to stop allocating money to the Florida Land Acquisition Trust Fund in the upcoming budget.

However, Jim McCarthy, chair of the North Florida Land Trust, said this goes against Amendment 1, which was passed by Florida voters by more than 70 percent in 2014, and shared his concerns about the issue Tuesday on First Coast Connect.

Sean Lahav / UNF's Environmental Center

Updated at 11 a.m. Tuesday

On the wall behind Jim McCarthy’s desk hangs a large photograph of a skeletonized tree trunk resting on the iconic Boneyard Beach at Big Talbot Island State Park.

“That beach is important,” said McCarthy, president of North Florida Land Trust. Since 2012, the nonprofit organization has preserved most of the over 1,000 acres of privately owned land on the island. The project, which protects migratory birds’ layover spots and diamondback terrapins’ dwellings, is largely financed by a private fund.


Lindsey Kilbride

A Northeast Florida state senator is trying to get more environmental dollars flowing toward the St. Johns River.

He’s proposing $35 million more for projects along the river that flows from Central Florida to Jacksonville.


Lawmakers recently settled on a $77 billion budget this year, but with very little money set aside for the state’s land conservation program. Environmentalists said it’s a perfect example of why a constitutional amendment ensuring funding each year is needed.

Conservationists around Florida are paying close attention to a plan to sell thousands of acres of state property, including beaches, forests and wetlands. The lands were originally acquired to protect them from development. 

Here on the First Coast, parts of Anastasia State Park in St. Johns County and Pumpkin Hill Creek Preserve State Park in Duval County would be included in the proposal.

The State Department of Environmental Protection has released a list of roughly 160 properties that could be sold. 

Florida’s Water and Land Legacy campaign is one step closer to getting a constitutional amendment to fund the Florida Forever land preservation program.

On Thursday, the group announced that it had collected enough signatures to qualify the measure for review by the Florida Supreme Court. A proposed amendment is eligible for state Supreme Court review when its backers collect 10 percent of the total 683,149 signatures required—or 68,314 John Hancocks.