SIERRA CLUB FLORIDA TO GOVERNOR SCOTT:
TAKE A HIKE!
Club Reacts to Veto of Florida Forever Funding
Sierra Club Florida received a call today from Governor Scott’s office relaying the news that he had exercised a line-item veto removing all funding for Florida Forever in the State Budget.
Florida Forever is the state’s landmark environmental land acquisition program. These lands were proposed for acquisition because of outstanding natural resources, opportunities for natural resource-based recreation, or historical and archaeological resources. The program is also used to buy up development rights on land needed to protect endangered species.
The Florida Legislature had approved $305 million for the Florida Forever program, most of which was projected to come from the sale of surplus lands.
Sierra Club Florida lobbyist Dave Cullen called Governor Scott’s action “short sighted.”
“Governor Scott has lost touch with natural Florida and the millions of people who go outdoors to enjoy nature,” said Rudy Scheffer, Chair of the Sierra Club Florida Steering Committee. Scheffer added, “The Governor needs to take a hike!”
Governor Scott once reported to the press that he enjoyed hiking. Sierra Club suggested that the Governor needs to take more hikes and see these lands that Florida has acquired using funding from Florida Forever. Florida Forever and its predecessor, Preservation 2000, have protected more than 2.4 million acres of land. The land has many uses, from recreation to water quality preservation to protecting our military. Florida Forever has touched nearly every county in Florida and greatly improved our great state’s quality of life.
For example, The Florida Trail is an endangered trail and there are significant gaps to be closed. Florida Forever was the single best source of funding for the closing the gaps. Since 2000, Florida funded acquisitions by the state or water management districts have resulted in approximately 74 miles of trail. With the slowdown in Florida’s real estate market comes a unique opportunity to acquire critically needed conservation lands, many of which would help close gaps in the Florida Trail — gaps which otherwise would become permanent when growth and development rebounds.