Making Florida First in Environmental Protection

Florida has the world’s most pristine environment with world-class beaches, hundreds of miles of coastline and award-winning state parks. Over the last five years, historic strides have been made to fund Everglades and springs restoration efforts, support Florida’s agricultural industries, and manage state lands.The Florida First budget provides more than $3.5 billion to protect Florida’s agricultural and natural resources.

Improving Water Quality and Providing a Sustainable Water Supply – The Florida First budget invests an additional $50 million for water supply programs which build on existing projects. This investment will help ensure the sustainable growth of Florida’s economy and environment, and also assist those economically challenged communities in Florida where funding for drinking water facilities represents a limiting factor to a growing economy.

In 2011, Florida established the most comprehensive nutrient pollution standards in the nation, becoming the first state to adopt complete nutrient standards covering all lakes, rivers, streams, springs, and estuaries. Florida must continue to be the best stewards of Florida’s natural resources and lead the nation as the place where people want to live, work and enjoy the outdoors. Striving to maintain the best water quality programs in the nation is a priority in the Florida First budget so the state can continue to protect Florida’s natural resources which is critical to ensuring the continued growth of the economy. While California faces an 11 trillion gallon water deficit and other states struggle to ensure a sustainable supply of water, Florida continues to be a leader in addressing the future water needs.

Everglades Restoration – The Florida First budget creates a dedicated source of funding for the Everglades that will ensure that more than $5 billion will be invested over the 20 year period that Amendment 1 is in effect , with $151 million included in the Florida First budget. Governor Scott has made restoring and protecting Florida’s Everglades a top priority. Partnering with the Florida Legislature, $32 million in recurring state funding has already been established as a part of the $880 million Everglades water quality plan. However, more must be done to complete projects including the C-43 and C-44 reservoirs which will provide almost 100 billion gallons of water storage to protect Florida’s estuaries.

Springs Protecting Florida’s Springs – The Florida First budget creates a dedicated source of funding for Florida springs that will ensure more than $1.6 billion will be invested over the 20 year period that Amendment 1 is in effect, including a $50 million investment this year. Just as with the Everglades, the water bodies of North Florida can also benefit from a dedicated funding source that allows more rural cities and counties to plan and invest in projects that protect the freshwater springs that define the region. Florida contains the most large freshwater springs in the nation. In addition to being critical habitat for wildlife, these natural treasures bring families, visitors and jobs to Florida. Recognizing the value of Florida springs, over the last three years the state has made a historic $189 million investment in restoring Florida’s springs with local partners.

Investing in Florida’s Parks and Natural Lands –The Florida First budget includes $35 million for park repairs and enhancements across the state. The Florida First budget also includes $63 million for targeted land acquisition to create more recreational opportunities and preserve Florida’s natural lands. In addition to new land acquisitions, the Florida First budget provides more than $125 million for land management to ensure that the state can carefully steward the lands currently owned.

Under the Governor’s leadership, Florida has become first for state parks. Florida’s State Park System won its third National Gold Medal for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management, and no other state has won multiple awards. The Governor is committed to continuing improvements and investments in Florida’s parks, greenways, wildlife management areas, beaches and other natural lands to ensure that residents and visitors can enjoy these natural treasures for generations to come.

Florida Beach Renourishment – BeachFlorida’s beaches are regularly rated as number one in the nation, and the Florida First budget includes $25 million for beach and dune restoration, beach renourishment, and other coastal restoration projects. Beach restoration generates an additional $2.4 billion in gross domestic product for the state of Florida.

Investment in Florida Agriculture – In order to ensure Florida’s citrus industry continues to lead the nation,the Florida First budget invests $1.5 billion in agriculture, including $8.5 million for research to stop the spread of citrus greening, and $7.7 million to help protect the economic well-being of the citrus industry.

Florida ranks first in cash receipts for oranges, grapefruit, fresh snap beans, sweet corn, watermelons, fresh cucumbers, squash and sugarcane, and ranks second in the production of strawberries, tangerines and bell peppers. Florida has 47,500 commercial farms, occupying a total of 9.25 million acres. Florida accounts for 65 percent of the total U.S. citrus production, more than any other state in the nation. Florida agriculture supports over two million jobs and contributes more than $104 billion annually to the state’s economy.