Thursday, December 31, 2009

SOS! Joins the Florida Forever Coalition

Florida Forever, the state's premier land conservation program, protects our beaches, lakes, natural areas and wildlife habitat for future generations. Unless we act to protect Florida Forever now, many of our beautiful natural areas will disappear before our children and grandchildren have a chance to enjoy them. Florida Forever and its predecessor Preservation 2000 have protected more than 2.4 million acres of land, including:

* 645,350 acres important to significant water bodies
* 5,190 acres of fragile coastline
* 426,290 acres of rare species habitat conservation areas
* 206,390 acres of land to support priority recreational trails
* Habitats for more than 200 protected species

Land conservation isn’t just good for the environment, it’s good for the economy. Florida Forever projects support nearly every aspect of Florida’s economy, from job creation to real estate to the creation of new industry. Consider:

*Hunting, fishing and wildlife watching supported 120,000 jobs in 2007.
*For every 1,000 people attending a state park, the total direct impact on the local community is more than $43,400.
*Consumers spend a daily average of $79 for fishing, $25 for camping, $40 for wildlife viewing and $35 for hunting.
*92% of Florida’s tourism industry leaders agree or strongly agree with the statement that “the conservation of Florida’s natural and historical assets is necessary for the long term success of my business.”
*U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates anglers generate $4.3 billion on fishing-related activities. Wildlife-viewing activities generate more than $3.1 billion, and hunting an additional $377 million.  This makes outdoor recreation an $8.1 billion industry.

To see the full economic impact of public land conservation, visit: The Economic Impact of Public Land Preservation.

For the first time in over two decades, the 2009 Florida Legislature did not fund the state's primary land conservation program. This decision places the continuity of Florida Forever in jeopardy. Even in times of economic downturn, the threats of unmitigated urban sprawl and rampant overdevelopment are evident daily. The resulting loss of parks and public spaces, the decline in water supply and quality, and the harm to Florida's unique ecosystems that will accompany this growth will have severe negative impacts on the quality of life for all Floridians.

The Florida Forever Coalition needs your help attending upcoming public events to convince our decision makers of the need to re-fund the program. Though it’s not always possible to get on the agenda, most meetings have time for public comments or questions. We hope you’ll attend your local legislative delegation meeting and ask them to support Florida Forever! Visit the Coalition's Take Action page for some suggested talking points and key facts to share. Keep checking our Upcoming Events page for meeting dates as they are released.

Save Our Shores! Florida is excited to partner with the Florida Forever Coalition and is looking forward to building a strong grassroots citizen effort on behalf of the program.


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