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Florida Environmental Groups Say Amendment 1 Funds Being Misused

Ray Hollister

Environmental groups in Northeast Florida are criticizing state legislators on how they are shifting funds for an amendment passed last November.

The groups say Amendment 1’s original purpose was to fund the Land Acquisition Trust Fund which would then acquire, restore and manage conservation lands.

But now representatives from groups like the North Florida Land Trust are concerned legislators are using funds from Amendment for things other than land purchases.

The North Florida Land Trust purchases land for conservation and preservation.

During an appearance on WJCT's “First Coast Connect,” Executive Director of North Florida Land Trust Jim McCarthy talked about Amendment 1 and land conservation in Northeast Florida.

“We were big supporters of Amendment 1,” McCarthy said. “It’s very clear legislative language. It simply says it was to acquire land and water.”

He says state legislators have decided to use the fund on salaries and operational costs for the Department of Environmental Protection.

“We lost six projects that will likely turn to developers because we can’t come up with the money,” McCarthy said. “Because Amendment 1 was just gutted by the state legislature.”

McCarthy says some environmental groups are taking legal action against the legislature, but he’s not sure how that will turn out.

He says the North Florida Land Trust is organizing for 2016 elections.

“We need to do a better job of educating the legislature on what the voters intended,” McCarthy said.

He says the group has a little over 3,000 acres of Florida land under protection.

Listen to the full conversation with Jim McCarthy on Wednesday’s episode of the “First Coast Connect” podcast oniTunes.