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Tourism Money Steered Toward Indian River Lagoon Restoration

Indian River Lagoon. Photo: Matthew Peddie, WMFE
Indian River Lagoon. Photo: Matthew Peddie, WMFE

A new state law puts $50 million toward Indian River Lagoon restoration.

The legislation expands what hotel tax money, aimed at promoting tourism, can be used for.

State Rep. Randy Fine sponsored the measure. He says it makes way for infrastructure projects like to sewer systems that would benefit the Indian River Lagoon.

"That is the No. 1 tourism asset in Brevard County. It is billions of dollars a year, and unfortunately it has fallen into terrible shape. The local government in Brevard County now has more than $10 million a year now available thanks to the Legislature to try to save the lagoon."

Lawmakers approved the legislation despite opposition. The lodging industry voiced concern it would dilute tourism funding in a state where the tourism industry is far-reaching.

"Given how our whole state is impacted by tourism, our beaches, our lakes, our roads, you could potentially swallow all tourism dollars with public projects and infrastructure projects. But we feel that was not the original intent of these dollars," says Samantha Padgett of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association.

The Indian River Lagoon funding extends over the next six years.

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