There is a slow but growing movement among Florida’s county commissions to add another voice to those urging the Florida Legislature to do what the voters ordered in 2014—fund conservation land purchases.
County commissioners in Alachua, Orange and Osceola counties have already passed resolutions.
Commissioners in Citrus, Lake, Seminole and Volusia counties are considering action at the request of local Audubon chapters.
This would be relevant and not just trendy because some of the highest priority conservation properties on the state’s approved purchase list lie in Polk County.
When the County Commission decided in 2015 to end the .2 mill environmental lands tax, the hope expressed by County Manager Jim Freeman was that Polk County could find some matching funds for any parcels that Amendment 1 might fund.
But county officials cannot step up if state officials refuse to.
Since 2014 the Florida Legislature has authorized very little of the voter-approved funding for conservation land purchasers, diverting the money instead to fund day-to-day agency expenses and local infrastructure projects that have little to do with land conservation.