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Florida Senate Proposal On Amendment 1 Spending Draws Criticsm

The Everglades. Photo: National Parks Service
The Everglades. Photo: National Parks Service

A Senate proposal on how to spend new land conservation funding is drawing criticism for focusing more on restoration and management and less on buying and preserving new land.

Senators met Thursday in Tallahassee to discuss the proposed Amendment 1 spending.

The proposal immediately sparked disapproval from Sen. Thad Altman of Cape Canaveral, who said voters intended Amendment 1 for land acquisition.

But committee chairman Alan Hays of Umatilla disagreed. He says Florida already has enough conservation land.

"Nine million, four-hundred-thousand acres of land for conservation purposes. I rest my case."

The proposal puts money toward Everglades restoration, springs restoration and land management. It puts $22 million toward land acquisition.

It includes nothing for water projects, despite funding requests from local governments and others exceeding $1 billion.

Hays later told a reporter that could change.

"We don't want to build false hope, and we don't want people to say, Oh my gosh you gave me something and then you took it away. We're not here to play games. We're here to be as forthright as we can."

Amendment 1 initiates a 20-year land conservation effort. Voters approved the state constitutional amendment in November.

Will Abberger is chairman of the Amendment 1 sponsor committee. He says the proposal doesn't put enough money toward land acquisition.

"It's just hard to understand when the words land acquisition appear in Amendment 1 18 times."

Amy Green covered the environment for WMFE until 2023. Her work included the 2020 podcast DRAINED.