Florida Senate - 2021                        COMMITTEE AMENDMENT
       Bill No. CS for SB 976
                              LEGISLATIVE ACTION                        
                    Senate             .             House              

       The Committee on Appropriations (Brodeur) recommended the
    1         Senate Amendment (with title amendment)
    3         Delete everything after the enacting clause
    4  and insert:
    5         Section 1. Section 259.1055, Florida Statutes, is created
    6  to read:
    7         259.1055Florida wildlife corridor.—
    8         (1)SHORT TITLE.—This section may be cited as the “The
    9  Florida Wildlife Corridor Act.”
   10         (2)LEGISLATIVE FINDINGS.—The Legislature finds that this
   11  state’s population is growing rapidly and that lands and waters
   12  that provide this state’s green infrastructure and vital habitat
   13  for wide-ranging wildlife, such as the Florida panther, need to
   14  be preserved and protected. The Legislature further finds that
   15  the Florida wildlife corridor is an existing physical,
   16  geographically defined area consisting of more than 18 million
   17  acres of land, 10 million of which are conservation lands.
   18         (3)PURPOSE.—The purpose of this act, and of the Florida
   19  wildlife corridor itself, is to create incentives for
   20  conservation and sustainable development while sustaining and
   21  conserving the green infrastructure that is the foundation of
   22  this state’s economy and quality of life by doing all of the
   23  following:
   24         (a)Maintaining wildlife access to the habitats needed to
   25  allow for migration of and genetic exchange amongst regional
   26  wildlife populations.
   27         (b)Preventing fragmentation of wildlife habitats.
   28         (c)Protecting the headwaters of major watersheds,
   29  including the Everglades and the St. Johns River.
   30         (d)Providing ecological connectivity of the lands needed
   31  for flood and sea-level rise resiliency and large-scale
   32  ecosystem functions, such as water management and prescribed
   33  burns essential for land management and restoration.
   34         (e)Preserving and protecting land and waters that are not
   35  only vital to wildlife but are critical to this state’s
   36  groundwater recharge and that serve as watersheds that provide
   37  drinking water to most Floridians and help maintain the health
   38  of downstream coastal estuaries.
   39         (f)Providing for wildlife crossings for the protection and
   40  safety of wildlife and the traveling public.
   41         (g)Helping to sustain this state’s working ranches, farms,
   42  and forests that provide compatible wildlife habitats while
   43  sustaining rural prosperity and agricultural production.
   44         (4)DEFINITIONS.—As used in this section, the term:
   45         (a)“Conserved lands” means federal, state, or local lands
   46  owned or managed for conservation purposes, including, but not
   47  limited to, federal, state, and local parks; federal and state
   48  forests; wildlife management areas; wildlife refuges; military
   49  bases and airports with conservation lands; properties owned by
   50  land trusts and managed for conservation; and privately owned
   51  land with a conservation easement, including, but not limited
   52  to, ranches, forestry operations, and groves.
   53         (b)“Department” means the Department of Environmental
   54  Protection.
   55         (c)“Florida Ecological Greenways Network” is a
   56  periodically updated model developed to delineate large
   57  connected areas of statewide ecological significance.
   58         (d)“Florida wildlife corridor” means the conserved lands
   59  and opportunity areas defined by the department as priority one,
   60  two, and three categories of the Florida Ecological Greenways
   61  Network.
   62         (e)“Opportunity area” means those lands and waters within
   63  the Florida wildlife corridor which are not conserved lands and
   64  the green spaces within the Florida wildlife corridor which lack
   65  conservation status, are contiguous to or between conserved
   66  lands, and provide an opportunity to develop the Florida
   67  wildlife corridor into a statewide conservation network.
   68         (f)“Wildlife” has the same meaning as in Article II of the
   69  Wildlife Violator Compact Act, s. 379.2255.
   70         (g)“Wildlife corridor” means a network of connected
   71  wildlife habitats required for the long-term survival of and
   72  genetic exchange amongst regional wildlife populations which
   73  serves to prevent fragmentation by providing ecological
   74  connectivity of the lands needed to furnish adequate habitats
   75  and allow safe movement and dispersal.
   76         (h)“Wildlife crossing” means a landscape design element
   77  that connects two or more patches of wildlife habitat and that
   78  is meant to function as a safe conduit for wildlife over or
   79  beneath roads, waters, and other barriers to wildlife movement
   80  and that is designed to protect Florida panther and other
   81  critical wildlife habitat corridor connections and to reduce
   82  motor vehicle collisions with wildlife, reduce the likelihood of
   83  injuries and mortalities to humans and wildlife from such
   84  collisions, and to reduce the potential for damage to motor
   85  vehicles from such collisions.
   86         (5)DUTIES OF THE DEPARTMENT.—The department shall:
   87         (a)Encourage all state, regional, and local agencies that
   88  acquire lands, including, but not limited to, the Fish and
   89  Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Department of
   90  Transportation, to include in their land-buying efforts the
   91  acquisition of sufficient legal interest in opportunity areas to
   92  ensure the continued viability of the Florida wildlife corridor.
   93         (b)Encourage investment in conservation easements
   94  voluntarily entered into by private landowners to conserve
   95  opportunity areas.
   96         (c)Encourage state land-buying agencies and state land
   97  management agencies to consider the conservation of opportunity
   98  areas as a multi-phased project for the purpose of listing,
   99  acquisition, and management.
  100         (d)Consider the inclusion of private funds to supplement
  101  the state’s contribution in its efforts to acquire a fee or
  102  less-than-fee interest in lands that contain recognized
  103  opportunity areas and conserved lands in the Florida wildlife
  104  corridor.
  105         (e)Seek opportunities to attract new sources of federal
  106  funding and to strengthen existing programs to protect and
  107  conserve the Florida wildlife corridor.
  108         (f)Encourage private landowners, through existing and
  109  future incentives and liability protections, to continue to
  110  allow their private property to be used for the preservation and
  111  enhancement of the Florida wildlife corridor.
  112         (g)Encourage new approaches and novel financing mechanisms
  113  for long-term protection of the Florida wildlife corridor,
  114  including, but not limited to, public-private partnerships;
  115  payments for ecosystem services; blended financing for growth,
  116  resilience, and green infrastructure; and support for the
  117  sustainable growth of agriculture.
  118         (h)Encourage state and local agencies with economic and
  119  ecotourism development responsibilities to recognize the
  120  importance of the Florida wildlife corridor in encouraging
  121  public access to wildlife areas and bringing nature-based
  122  tourism to local communities and to support acquisition and
  123  development activities for preservation and enhancement of the
  124  Florida wildlife corridor.
  125         (i) Encourage private investment in ecotourism focused on
  126  the Florida wildlife corridor.
  127         (j)Encourage the protection, preservation, and enhancement
  128  of the natural value of the Florida wildlife corridor for
  129  current and future residents of this state.
  130         (6)RESTRICTIONS.—A local or state governmental entity may
  131  not restrict proposed future activities on private properties
  132  designated within the Florida wildlife corridor boundaries based
  133  upon the property’s inclusion in the Florida wildlife corridor
  134  area.
  135         Section 2. (1) The St. Johns River Water Management
  136  District, in consultation with the Department of Environmental
  137  Protection, Seminole County, the Fish and Wildlife Conservation
  138  Commission, and the Department of Transportation, shall issue a
  139  report by December 31, 2021, that includes information and
  140  updates regarding the implementation of recommendations from the
  141  Little Wekiva Watershed Management Plan Final Report dated
  142  November 2005. The report must include, but not be limited to,
  143  the following information: a description of all projects or
  144  recommendations included in the report that have been
  145  implemented and their completion dates, an analysis of how the
  146  projects or recommendations achieved the results included in the
  147  report, an analysis of costs for ongoing operation and
  148  maintenance of the constructed projects completed, a list of
  149  permit violations which may have contributed to sediment buildup
  150  north of S.R. 436, an analysis of any new projects that may
  151  benefit the watershed, and recommendations and cost estimates
  152  for future studies or projects that may be necessary to identify
  153  new or potentially significant contributors of sediment
  154  accumulation in the Little Wekiva River.
  155         (2)(a) The Department of Environmental Protection and the
  156  water management district shall immediately review, with the
  157  goal of identifying significant contributors of sediment
  158  accumulation, any permits which the water management district
  159  has determined may have contributed to sediment buildup north of
  160  S.R. 436 to assess whether the permittee is in violation of any
  161  permit conditions. Appropriate action to resolve compliance
  162  issues shall be undertaken pursuant to chapter 373 if the
  163  department or the water management district discovers a
  164  violation of any permit condition.
  165         (b) As part of the review, the Department of Environmental
  166  Protection and the water management district shall review known
  167  violations of such permits since 2018, and attempt to determine,
  168  using existing information, what effects such violations may
  169  have had on sediment accumulation in the Little Wekiva River.
  170         Section 3. This act shall take effect July 1, 2021.
  172  ================= T I T L E  A M E N D M E N T ================
  173  And the title is amended as follows:
  174         Delete everything before the enacting clause
  175  and insert:
  176                        A bill to be entitled                      
  177         An act relating to the protection of ecological systems;
  178  creating s. 259.1055, F.S.; providing a short title; providing
  179  legislative findings and a purpose for the Florida Wildlife
  180  Corridor Act; defining terms; requiring the Department of
  181  Environmental Protection to take certain actions to support the
  182  Florida wildlife corridor; prohibiting proposed future
  183  activities on private properties within the Florida wildlife
  184  corridor from being restricted by local or state governmental
  185  entities; requiring the St. Johns River Water Management
  186  District, in consultation with the Department of Environmental
  187  Protection, Seminole County, the Fish and Wildlife Conservation
  188  Commission, and the Department of Transportation, to issue a
  189  report that includes information and updates regarding the
  190  implementation of recommendations from the Little Wekiva
  191  Watershed Management Plan Final Report dated November 2005 by a
  192  specified date; requiring the Department of Environmental
  193  Protection and the water management district to review certain
  194  permits along the Little Wekiva River; requiring certain
  195  enforcement actions to be taken against noncompliant permittees;
  196  providing an effective date.