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Guest Commentary: Election critical for Florida’s future – Please vote!

By Staff | Oct 29, 2014

This November’s election will be a critical turning point for Florida’s future. On many levels the results of this year’s election will dictate the direction of what Florida will look like in the next 20 years. Why? Because Florida’s population is projected to grow by 30 million over the next 20 years. Resources that are not thoughtfully and selectively protected will be lost to development. In the past four years the state’s growth management agency was eliminated, jeopardizing regional coordination, assessment and connections between critical state resources.

Amendment 1 is the Florida’s Water and Land Conservation Amendment designed to protect funding for conservation land purchases and restoration for the next 20 years. By passing Amendment 1, we can support our largest economy – tourism – while providing for our own quality of life, clean water and space for wildlife.

As we emerge from the recession growth is increasing, making it imperative that we identify and protect wildlife corridors and special places for recreation and relaxation – including water recharge and wetland habitats that store and filter water – before they are reduced to postage stamp tokens of what Florida used to be. Florida is the wonderful place that attracts visitors and residents from all over the world because it’s where one can enjoy healthy and diverse beaches, rivers, springs, forests and their unique wildlife. We can thank those who came before us who had the vision and saw the need to invest in wild Florida to protect it. Make no mistake, the economy we enjoy today is the legacy of that investment decades ago.

This investment amounts to less than 1 percent of the state’s annual budget and, for that, it returns our largest income, tourism. Unfortunately the legislature in recent years lost the vision that provided what we enjoy today. Voting Yes on 1 will help us protect Florida’s economy and unique natural heritage for generations to come.

Amendment 1 is not a new tax, the money would come from 33 percent of doc stamp taxes for 20 years

This funding built Florida’s award-winning network of parks and recreation areas

The funds could be used by local governments for matching funds

It would raise $10 billion and sunset in 2035

Funds can be used to support Everglades Restoration projects that will help address excess flow and water quality in our river and coastal waters

The investment enhances and protects drinking water sources across the state

Enables us to protect and restore beaches and shorelines on state and local parks

Allows connections between preserve lands with wildlife corridors and buffers to maintain water quality for fish and wildlife habitats

Continues a proud tradition of conservation of natural resources in Florida for future generations

This year we will determine the future of Florida. The choice is clear: support our tourism economy, clean water and vibrant natural resources unique to Florida or squander the opportunity and the unique resources, without which Florida will have lost the soul and essence that makes it unique and special.

Help us preserve the unique and wondrous natural and cultural heritage of Florida. Vote Yes on 1!

– Rae Ann Wessel is the Natural Resource Policy director, for the Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation