New bill boosts Florida Wildlife Corridor

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Governor Ron DeSantis in Poinciana on Monday celebrated the signing of Senate Bill 976, The Florida Wildlife Corridor Act, which directs the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to encourage and promote investments in areas that protect and enhance the corridor.

To support these efforts, the Florida Leads budget dedicates $300 million specifically to protect the corridor, funding that is above and beyond the $100 million allocated to the Florida Forever program. 

This funding can be used for the acquisition of Florida Wildlife Corridor lands, in fee simple or conservation easements.?The legislation designates the Florida Wildlife Corridor as an existing physical, geographically defined area comprised of over 18 million acres, of which almost 10 million acres are conservation lands, that was developed through a coordinated effort of the Florida Wildlife Corridor Coalition.

The Florida Wildlife Corridor relies on and continues decades of work by scientists and conservation organizations that recognize landscape-scale conservation approaches, and specifically corridors, as a way to address habitat loss and fragmentation across the state.

“Today we celebrate another milestone of this year’s legislative session, which was a resounding success for Florida’s environment,” said DeSantis. “I thank the legislature for their support of this landmark legislation that will conserve critical natural ecosystems and working landscapes for the protection of Florida’s unique and diverse wildlife while preserving Florida’s green spaces for generations to come.” 

Interim FDEP Secretary Shawn Hamilton said “this bill will further Florida’s conservation efforts by building upon a network of public and private lands to provide critical habitat for wildlife across the state.” 

Carlton Ward, Jr., National Geographic Explorer and founder of the Path of the Panther project, thanks both the governor and FDEP for their investment in the corridor. “Through their leadership, Florida will set a global example for how world-class natural areas, like the Everglades; rare and endangered wildlife, like the Florida panther; and a robust and growing economy can thrive together,” he said.

“Protecting essential Florida lands and waters is necessary not only to the Florida panther, black bear, red cockaded woodpecker, gopher tortoise, longleaf pine and so many others that depend on those lands to move, grow and prosper in Florida, but also for our ability to successfully mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change,” said The Nature Conservancy in Florida Executive Director Temperince Morgan.

“The signing of the Florida Wildlife Corridor Act by Governor DeSantis marks a big win for land conservation in Florida and sparks both excitement and inspiration for Florida's conservation future,” said Conservation Florida CEO Traci Deen.

“Our children and grandchildren deserve to know, and enjoy, the same beautiful Florida that we do,” said House Speaker Chris Sprowls. “This landmark legislation will ensure that Florida’s distinctive ecosystem continues to flourish.”

The act, which passed unanimously in the legislature, was championed by Florida Senate President Wilton Simpson, State Senator Jason Brodeur and State Representative Keith Truenow.

“Preserving and expanding Florida's Wildlife Corridor will ensure more of Florida’s unique natural habitats are maintained for future generations of Floridians," said Florida Senate President Wilton Simpson.

Our children and grandchildren deserve to know, and enjoy, the same beautiful Florida that we do,” said House Speaker Chris Sprowls. “This landmark legislation will ensure that Florida’s distinctive ecosystem continues to flourish. Governor DeSantis has made sensible, solution-oriented environmental policy a priority during his time in office and along with President Simpson’s expertise with agriculture and conservation planning, we were able pass this important bill unanimously through the legislature.”

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