Two weeks after it was signed into law, Governor DeSantis celebrated the approval of SB 976, otherwise known as The Florida Wildlife Corridor Act.
The Act directs the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) to promote and encourage investments towards the protection and enhancement of the Florida Wildlife Corridor.
“Today we celebrate another milestone of this year’s legislative session, which was a resounding success for Florida’s environment. 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,” DeSantis said in a press release Monday.
According to the release, the Florida Wildlife Corridor is an “existing physical, geographically defined area comprising 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.”
Additionally, the Corridor “relies on and continues the decades of work by numerous scientists and conservation organizations that recognize landscape-scale conservation approaches, and specifically corridors, as a way to address habitat loss and fragmentation across Florida.”
Along with other officials who praised the Act, The Nature Conservatory in Florida Executive Director Temperince Morgan 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.”
Interim FDEP Secretary Shawn Hamilton praised the Act by saying, “Florida’s environmental priorities have remained strong, including land acquisition for protection of our natural resources and wildlife.” He added, “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.”
In order to support the Act, the press release highlights $300 million from the Florida Leads budget that will be used to support the protection of the Florida Wildlife Corridor. Those funds are in addition to the $100 million already allocated to the pre-existing conservation program known as Florida Forever.
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Casey Owens is a contributing writer for The Florida Capital Star. Follow him on Twitter at @cowensreports. Email tips to [email protected]