Do you love clean drinking water? Then please urge your local lawmaker to fund Florida’s conservation easement programs this year!
Programs such as Florida Forever and Rural and Family Lands Protection are cost-efficient ways to protect our water resources.
Ranch landscapes are under threat of development. Ranchers who choose to keep their acreage as close to pristine wilderness as possible are hard-working people who care for the land and water. In fact, cattle operations are a low-intensity land use, because unlike neighborhoods, ranches actually store and clean water.
Conservation easements protect our water and wildlife in cost-effective ways, making ranchers responsible for the management of this precious land in perpetuity. That means that even when cattle prices drop, conservation easements provide an option to ranchers to conserve their lands.
Florida is growing; real-estate prices are rising, but our intact landscapes are disappearing. Protecting our waterways means protecting the watershed.
Politicians need to realize that fixing problems downstream is futile without protecting what is upstream.
According to Julie Morris of The Florida Conservation Group www.floridaconserve.org, which advocates for the protection of Florida’s ranchlands, “Funding our land protection programs is a time-sensitive issue. Both Florida Forever and Rural Family Lands are critical programs to protecting viable wildlife populations and clean water. We can’t keep kicking the can down the road and putting off protecting one of our most sensitive landscapes.”
She stressed that the need for conservation easements, which will focus on maintaining ranchlands north of the Florida Everglades, is urgent. “Bottom line—if we want clean water, we have to protect the landscape. Conservation easements need funding this year!”
Rural and Family Lands Protection Program and Florida Forever are critical to the health of the landscape; they both protect water quality and supply for urban areas, maintain our agricultural economy, protect Florida’s tourist economy and military base buffers. Both programs partner with other local, state and federal programs to leverage resources and maximize protection benefits. Funding these conservation easement programs is an investment in Florida’s future and is critical to our quality of life.
•We are losing natural/agricultural land at rapid pace
•Private lands protect Florida’s water and natural resources
•These programs are the most cost effective way to preserve our water resources
•We can invest a little now or a lot later to restore our watersheds
•Private lands protect drinking water supply and water quality/quantity to our urban areas
•Private lands are critical to aquifer recharge
•We can protect water resources for a fraction of the cost of outright purchase
•RFLPP protects our food security and agricultural economy; Florida Forever protects our critical water resources
•Land stays on tax roles/private ownership
•Management costs responsibility of landowner
Florida has always been a national leader in land protection, and conservation easements are a smart way to protect our natural resources before spending billions on clean-up.
Florida’s natural and agricultural landscape is rapidly disappearing, which means that we must support these taxpayers-funded programs NOW.
After 71 percent of Floridians voted for Amendment 1, it’s clear that we want our state leaders to make economic and environmentally-sound decisions to fund both of these nationally-recognized programs.
Florida’s taxpayers spend more than $10 billion to fund the Department of Transportation each year. But the protection of natural and agricultural lands, which in turn protects our drinking water, is even more necessary for Florida’s economy and healthy communities.
In contrast, $200 million towards conservation easements would protect our land and water resources forever. These programs are needed to protect our state’s water supply and quality, clean air, habitat and wildlife and maintain the agriculture that is a critical part of our state economy.
Land protection isn’t a luxury; it’s vital to cleaning Florida’s water; which is critical to the future of this great state.