Florida Senate - 2020 SB 7024 By the Committee on Environment and Natural Resources 592-02238-20 20207024__ 1 A bill to be entitled 2 An act relating to Florida Forever; amending s. 3 259.105, F.S.; revising legislative findings under the 4 Florida Forever Act to include wildlife crossings as a 5 land acquisition purpose; requiring the Department of 6 Environmental Protection to consult with specified 7 entities for certain projects related to conservation 8 lands and coastal areas subject to flooding; requiring 9 that certain allocations from the Florida Forever 10 Trust Fund include a specified amount for lands in 11 this state which have been impacted by a hurricane 12 during a specified timeframe and meet certain 13 requirements; revising legislative intent regarding 14 the use of certain funds; requiring the Acquisition 15 and Restoration Council to give increased priority to 16 certain projects that maximize the benefits associated 17 with the acquisition of certain conservation lands or 18 coastal areas; providing an effective date. 19 20 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida: 21 22 Section 1. Paragraph (a) of subsection (2), paragraph (b) 23 of subsection (3), and paragraph (b) of subsection (4) of 24 section 259.105, Florida Statutes, are amended, and paragraph 25 (i) is added to subsection (2) and paragraph (g) is added to 26 subsection (10) of that section, to read: 27 259.105 The Florida Forever Act.— 28 (2)(a) The Legislature finds and declares that: 29 1. Land acquisition programs have provided tremendous 30 financial resources for purchasing environmentally significant 31 lands to protect those lands from imminent development or 32 alteration, thereby ensuring present and future generations’ 33 access to important waterways, open spaces, and recreation and 34 conservation lands. 35 2. The continued alteration and development of the state’s 36 natural and rural areas to accommodate the state’s growing 37 population have contributed to the degradation of water 38 resources, the fragmentation and destruction of wildlife 39 habitats, the loss of outdoor recreation space, and the 40 diminishment of wetlands, forests, working landscapes, and 41 coastal open space. 42 3. The potential development of the state’s remaining 43 natural areas and escalation of land values require government 44 efforts to restore, bring under public protection, or acquire 45 lands and water areas to preserve the state’s essential 46 ecological functions and invaluable quality of life. 47 4. It is essential to protect the state’s ecosystems by 48 promoting a more efficient use of land, to ensure opportunities 49 for viable agricultural activities on working lands, and to 50 promote vital rural and urban communities that support and 51 produce development patterns consistent with natural resource 52 protection. 53 5. The state’s groundwater, surface waters, and springs are 54 under tremendous pressure due to population growth and economic 55 expansion and require special protection and restoration 56 efforts, including the protection of uplands and springsheds 57 that provide vital recharge to aquifer systems and are critical 58 to the protection of water quality and water quantity of the 59 aquifers and springs. To ensure that sufficient quantities of 60 water are available to meet the current and future needs of the 61 natural systems and citizens of the state, and assist in 62 achieving the planning goals of the department and the water 63 management districts, water resource development projects on 64 public lands, if compatible with the resource values of and 65 management objectives for the lands, are appropriate. 66 6. The needs of urban, suburban, and small communities in 67 the state for high-quality outdoor recreational opportunities, 68 greenways, trails, and open space have not been fully met by 69 previous acquisition programs. Through such programs as the 70 Florida Communities Trust and the Florida Recreation Development 71 Assistance Program, the state shall place additional emphasis on 72 acquiring, protecting, preserving, and restoring open space, 73 ecological greenways, and recreation properties within urban, 74 suburban, and rural areas where pristine natural communities or 75 water bodies no longer exist because of the proximity of 76 developed property. 77 7. Many of the state’s unique ecosystems, such as the 78 Florida Everglades, are facing ecological collapse due to the 79 state’s burgeoning population growth and other economic 80 activities. To preserve these valuable ecosystems for future 81 generations, essential parcels of land must be acquired to 82 facilitate ecosystem restoration. 83 8. Access to public lands to support a broad range of 84 outdoor recreational opportunities and the development of 85 necessary infrastructure, if compatible with the resource values 86 of and management objectives for such lands, promotes an 87 appreciation for the state’s natural assets and improves the 88 quality of life. 89 9. Acquisition of lands, in fee simple, less than fee 90 interest, or other techniques shall be based on a comprehensive 91 science-based assessment of the state’s natural resources which 92 targets essential conservation lands by prioritizing all current 93 and future acquisitions based on a uniform set of data and 94 planned so as to protect the integrity and function of 95 ecological systems and working landscapes, and provide multiple 96 benefits, including preservation of fish and wildlife habitat, 97 connection of wildlife habitat with a wildlife crossing, 98 recreation space for urban and rural areas, and the restoration 99 of natural water storage, flow, and recharge. 100 10. The state has embraced performance-based program 101 budgeting as a tool to evaluate the achievements of publicly 102 funded agencies, build in accountability, and reward those 103 agencies which are able to consistently achieve quantifiable 104 goals. While previous and existing state environmental programs 105 have achieved varying degrees of success, few of these programs 106 can be evaluated as to the extent of their achievements, 107 primarily because performance measures, standards, outcomes, and 108 goals were not established at the outset. Therefore, the Florida 109 Forever program shall be developed and implemented in the 110 context of measurable state goals and objectives. 111 11. The state must play a major role in the recovery and 112 management of its imperiled species through the acquisition, 113 restoration, enhancement, and management of ecosystems that can 114 support the major life functions of such species. It is the 115 intent of the Legislature to support local, state, and federal 116 programs that result in net benefit to imperiled species habitat 117 by providing public and private land owners meaningful 118 incentives for acquiring, restoring, managing, and repopulating 119 habitats for imperiled species. It is the further intent of the 120 Legislature that public lands, both existing and to be acquired, 121 identified by the lead land managing agency, in consultation 122 with the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission for animals 123 or the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services for 124 plants, as habitat or potentially restorable habitat for 125 imperiled species, be restored, enhanced, managed, and 126 repopulated as habitat for such species to advance the goals and 127 objectives of imperiled species management for conservation, 128 recreation, or both, consistent with the land management plan 129 without restricting other uses identified in the management 130 plan. It is also the intent of the Legislature that of the 131 proceeds distributed pursuant to subsection (3), additional 132 consideration be given to acquisitions that achieve a 133 combination of conservation goals, including the restoration, 134 enhancement, management, or repopulation of habitat for 135 imperiled species. The council, in addition to the criteria in 136 subsection (9), shall give weight to projects that include 137 acquisition, restoration, management, or repopulation of habitat 138 for imperiled species. The term “imperiled species” as used in 139 this chapter and chapter 253, means plants and animals that are 140 federally listed under the Endangered Species Act, or state 141 listed by the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission or the 142 Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. As part of the 143 state’s role, all state lands that have imperiled species 144 habitat shall include as a consideration in management plan 145 development the restoration, enhancement, management, and 146 repopulation of such habitats. In addition, the lead land 147 managing agency of such state lands may use fees received from 148 public or private entities for projects to offset adverse 149 impacts to imperiled species or their habitat in order to 150 restore, enhance, manage, repopulate, or acquire land and to 151 implement land management plans developed under s. 253.034 or a 152 land management prospectus developed and implemented under this 153 chapter. Such fees shall be deposited into a foundation or fund 154 created by each land management agency under s. 379.223, s. 155 589.012, or s. 259.032(9)(c), to be used solely to restore, 156 manage, enhance, repopulate, or acquire imperiled species 157 habitat. 158 12. There is a need to change the focus and direction of 159 the state’s major land acquisition programs and to extend 160 funding and bonding capabilities, so that future generations may 161 enjoy the natural resources of this state. 162 (i) The department shall consult with the Division of 163 Emergency Management, the Department of Agriculture and Consumer 164 Services, the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the 165 Department of Transportation, the Department of Economic 166 Opportunity, and the relevant water management districts on 167 projects related to conservation lands and coastal areas subject 168 to flooding as a result of sea-level rise. The goal of this 169 consultation is to maximize the benefits of such projects by 170 coordinating, wherever possible, acquisitions that complement 171 the planned projects of these agencies. 172 (3) Less the costs of issuing and the costs of funding 173 reserve accounts and other costs associated with bonds, the 174 proceeds of cash payments or bonds issued pursuant to this 175 section shall be deposited into the Florida Forever Trust Fund 176 created by s. 259.1051. The proceeds shall be distributed by the 177 Department of Environmental Protection in the following manner: 178 (b) Thirty-five percent to the Department of Environmental 179 Protection for the acquisition of lands and capital project 180 expenditures described in this section. Of the proceeds 181 distributed pursuant to this paragraph, it is the intent of the 182 Legislature that an increased priority be given to those 183 acquisitions that
whichachieve a combination of conservation 184 goals, including protecting Florida’s water resources and 185 natural groundwater recharge. 186 1. At a minimum, 3 percent, and no more than 10 percent, of 187 the funds allocated pursuant to this paragraph shall be spent on 188 capital project expenditures identified during the time of 189 acquisition which meet land management planning activities 190 necessary for public access. 191 2. Beginning in the 2017-2018 fiscal year and continuing 192 through the 2026-2027 fiscal year, at least $5 million of the 193 funds allocated pursuant to this paragraph shall be spent on 194 land acquisition within the Florida Keys Area of Critical State 195 Concern as authorized pursuant to s. 259.045. 196 3. Beginning in the 2020-2021 fiscal year, and in each 197 fiscal year thereafter, at least $10 million of the funds 198 allocated pursuant to this paragraph shall be spent on the 199 acquisition of lands or conservation easements in this state in 200 areas that were impacted by a hurricane within the 5 years 201 before the fiscal year for which funds for the acquisition are 202 appropriated and that are either conservation lands as defined 203 in s. 253.034(2)(c) or coastal areas subject to flooding as a 204 result of sea-level rise. For the purposes of this subsection, a 205 hurricane-impacted area is the area specifically identified by 206 the Governor pursuant to an executive order. 207 (4) It is the intent of the Legislature that projects or 208 acquisitions funded pursuant to paragraphs (3)(a) and (b) 209 contribute to the achievement of the following goals, which 210 shall be evaluated in accordance with specific criteria and 211 numeric performance measures developed pursuant to s. 212 259.035(4): 213 (b) Increase the protection of this state’s Florida’s214 biodiversity at the species, natural community, and landscape 215 levels, as measured by: 216 1. The number of acres acquired of significant strategic 217 habitat conservation areas; 218 2. The number of acres acquired of highest priority 219 conservation areas for Florida’s rarest species; 220 3. The number of acres acquired of significant landscapes, 221 landscape linkages, wildlife crossings, and conservation 222 corridors, giving priority to completing linkages; 223 4. The number of acres acquired of underrepresented native 224 ecosystems; 225 5. The number of landscape-sized protection areas of at 226 least 50,000 acres that exhibit a mosaic of predominantly intact 227 or restorable natural communities established through new 228 acquisition projects or augmentations to previous projects; or 229 6. The percentage increase in the number of occurrences of 230 imperiled species on publicly managed conservation areas. 231 232 Florida Forever projects and acquisitions funded pursuant to 233 paragraph (3)(c) shall be measured by goals developed by rule by 234 the Florida Communities Trust Governing Board created in s. 235 380.504. 236 (10) The council shall give increased priority to: 237 (g) Projects that maximize the benefits associated with the 238 acquisition of conservation lands or coastal areas subject to 239 flooding as a result of sea-level rise through coordinated 240 planning efforts with the Division of Emergency Management, the 241 Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the Fish and 242 Wildlife Conservation Commission, the Department of 243 Transportation, the Department of Economic Opportunity, or the 244 water management districts. 245 Section 2. This act shall take effect July 1, 2020.