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Make the Call for Wild Florida



Dear <<First Name>>,

 

The Florida state legislative session is in full swing and our legislators have come out swinging – against programs that protect the lands and waters we love and that are vital for wildlife. Last week, I journeyed to Tallahassee to educate our elected officials about the need to adequately fund Florida Forever and the Rural and Family Lands Protection Program. These programs protect valuable natural and agricultural lands and waters that benefit Floridians and wildlife. What I heard dismayed me and I urge you to speak with your elected officials today and ask them to protect our state’s future. Please also see my op-ed in the Tampa Bay Times.

In the current budget, the House has stripped all funding for land and water protection. The Senate has recommended just over $22 million for these programs combined. This is a far cry from the historic $300 million that was invested during the height of Florida Forever, which resulted in significant wins for our wildest places.

Both Florida Forever and the Rural and Family Land Protection Program include priority conservation easement programs, which pay farmers and ranchers NOT to develop their lands. Easement programs have support from conservationists, landowners and legislators as they keep land in private ownership and on the tax rolls, ultimately reducing the cost to taxpayers, while conserving habitat for wildlife. Lands containing wetlands and other habitats also maintain vital freshwater. Privately owned lands, like cattle ranches, are also one of our best opportunities for ensuring the survival of wildlife, like the Florida panther. These impressive predators rely upon both publicly-owned areas, like the Everglades National Park, and privately-owned cattle ranches in the Greater Everglades.

We celebrated a massive milestone last week when Florida panther kittens were documented north of the Caloosahatchee River (NAT GEO BLOG, Tampa Bay Times article). This proves that its habitat range is expanding, in large part due to the successful partnerships between landowners and conservation entities. Protecting large, contiguous habitats is possible through federal and state-funded easement programs, but not without adequate funding.

Last month, a 19-year-old conservationist - Oscar Psychas - walked 300 miles from his home in Gainesville to Tallahassee to increase awareness about the need to fund conservation programs. He was inspired by the Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition and planned his route along parts of the Florida National Scenic Trail and within portions of the Suwannee River - a critical east-west linkage in the Corridor.  Arriving on the steps of the capitol on March 7th - the 1st day of the legislative session - he spoke passionately about protecting the Florida he loves for his grandchildren. The Florida Wildlife Corridor joined him for a portion of his walk along the Suwannee River and created this 360° virtual reality video “A Walk for Wild Florida” about his  journey.

Today, it’s your turn. Our legislators will revisit the budget this week. You still have the ability and the responsibility to influence how your taxpayer dollars are spent. If you value our wild places and our working landscapes, please contact your legislators today and ask them to fully fund Florida Forever and the Rural and Family Lands Protection Program. You can search for your legislators here (Senate, House) and call these key officials:

Senate
Senator Jack Latvala: (850) 487-5016

Senator Rob Bradley: (850) 487-5005

House
Speaker Richard Corcoran: (850) 717-5000

Representative Ben Albritton: (850) 717-5056


Example text for your legislators:

“Please allocate $100 million each to Florida Forever and the Rural and Family Lands Protection Program. These programs protect valuable natural and agricultural lands that benefit Floridians and wildlife. In particular, conservation easements keep productive lands in private ownership, while providing important ecosystem benefits, like fresh food and water. These are essential services and investment in these programs is a good use of taxpayer dollars.  I care about the future of our state and ask that you adequately invest in protecting the lands and waters that make Florida a great place to live, work and play.”

For the future of our state and the places we love, your voice matters!

 

Yours in conservation,

 

Lindsay

A girl can dream...




Past Events



Check out this short video
of the the Florida Wildlife
Corridor as they join Oscar on
his stunningly beautiful journey
through wild Florida. The video
is best viewed via Google 
Cardboard or your
smartphone or
tablet.




Upcoming Events



April 21st

THE FORGOTTEN COAST will be available on PBS nationwide starting on April 21st. The film will stream for 4 weeks and available at:  http://www.pbs.org/program/forgotten-coast/
Contact your local PBS affiliate to request the broadcast in your area! 





May 2nd

Give where you
live for the annual
Give Day Tampa Bay!
Tampa Bay area,
FL

 

Partner Progress

Cave divers delight in the exploration and mapping of underwater caves, like those in the Mill Creek system.                     

The Suwannee River Water Management District recently allocated $700,000 towards water resource improvement projects in the Suwannee and Santa Fe rivers. The Suwannee River is one of the 10 “Critical Linkage” areas identified as most in need of protection in order to maintain connectivity of the Florida Wildlife Corridor. Oscar and the Florida Wildlife Corridor team traversed portions of this area during the “Walk for Wild Florida” (see video above).

Just outside the Corridor, the Santa Fe River is an “Outstanding Florida Waterway” with special importance for wildlife, water supply and human recreation. Improvements to the water quality in Mill Creek Sink will ultimately benefit the Santa Fe River basin.

Mill Creek Sink is of unique importance, and may even contain a pre-Columbian forest remnant due to little logging. The floodplain hosts several uncommon species of plants and the cave supports several species of special concern, including the Florida Cave amphipod and the Blind Cave crayfish. The sink is also the only known access point to the underground Mill Creek Stream system and associated cave.

Florida boasts one of the highest concentrations of freshwater springs in the world, drawing outdoor enthusiasts such as paddlers and SCUBA divers. Due to its porous karst geography, it contains unique geological features like sinks and underwater cave systems. The sink and the immediate 8.5 acres surrounding it are part of the MillCreek Sink Nature Preserve, owned by the National Speleological Society.

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Florida Wildlife Corridor
PO Box 1802
Tampa, FL 36601

Interested in becoming a volunteer or an intern for the Florida Wildlife Corridor? Please email us at floridawildlifecorridor@gmail.com for more information.

The Florida Wildlife Corridor is a nonprofit, tax-exempt charitable organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Donations are tax-deductible as allowed by law. Copyright © 2016. All rights reserved.

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