Tallahassee, FL – The Florida Conservation Coalition, a non-partisan group of non-profit organizations and concerned citizens led by Senator Bob Graham, two-term Florida  governor and three-term U.S. Senator, today urged elected officials, policy makers and candidates for office to protect and conserve Florida’s natural resources essential to the well-being and quality of life of the residents of this state and its long-term economic prosperity. The Florida Conservation Coalition’s initial focus for 2012  is water resources.

“Our water and natural resources are what makes Florida special – the envy of the nation,” said Senator Graham. “It is the fabric that holds our state together. Our natural heritage simply can no longer be treated as a commodity with indifference and disrespect as has happened in 2011.”

The Florida Conservation Coalition welcomes Governor Rick Scott’s announcement earlier this month that restoring the Everglades is a top priority of his administration. We strongly urge him to make all of Florida’s environment and natural resources a top priority.

The Florida Conservation Coalition emphasizes the following priorities:

  • Restoring reasonable funding for Florida’s regional water management districts to provide for water quality protection, adequate water supplies, flood protection, and natural resources protection.
  • Funding Florida Forever including acquiring land for water resource protection.
  • Reaffirming Florida’s commitment to restore the Everglades, upon which South Florida’s water supply and quality of life depends.
  • Managing Florida’s water resources at the regional, not state level.
  • Ensuring that growth management laws and policies support sustainable use of water.
  • Promoting efficient use and conservation of water.
  • Opposing efforts to privatize Florida’s water.

“Water is our most vital public resource and as such, should be managed by regional water management districts that understand the unique issues involved in assuring adequate local water supplies,” said Republican Senator Paula Dockery. “During my 15 years in the legislature, I was proud to sponsor legislation that protects our natural resources and improves water quality while addressing water supply planning.”

Stakeholders from diverse interests in Florida turned out today in support of the principles presented by the Florida Conservation Coalition. Nathaniel Pryor Reed, who served as Environmental Advisor to Republican Governor Claude Kirk and Assistant Secretary of the Interior under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, challenges citizens and state leaders to develop policies that do not undermine long-term growth management. “As stewards of this great state, we must protect and develop policies that prevent environmental damage resulting in costly burdens for our children and grandchildren,” said Mr. Reed, Chairman Emeritus of the 1000 Friends of Florida Board of Directors.

Recent legislative changes including funding and staffing reductions diminish the authority of the state’s five regional water management districts threaten the ability to maintain local control and provide strategic permitting of water resources (Northwest Florida Water Management District, Suwannee River Water Management District, St. Johns River Water Management District, South Florida Water Management District and Southwest Florida Water Management District).

“We need clear state policies that recognize and incorporate the critical interdependence of Florida’s economy and environment,” said Manley Fuller, President of the Florida Wildlife Federation.  “We are working to bring together the public, economic interests, conservationists and policy makers on behalf of Florida’s waters.”

County Resolutions

The Taylor and Jefferson County Commissions have recently adopted resolutions supporting the principles of the Florida Conservation Coalition regarding water resources.Other counties from across the State are considering adopting similar resolutions.

“Don’t count out the youth of Florida, we are the future,” said Samantha Ruiz, co-president of the University of Central Florida student organization Intellectual Decisions  on Environmental Awareness Solutions (I.D.E.A.S.).  “We will lead this State someday, and ask that we not be left to correct the mistakes of the past.  Engage us in a  discussion about how today’s decisions affect tomorrow’s water supply.”

The Florida Conservation Coalition is devoted to protecting and conserving our state’s natural resources that are essential to preserve our quality of life and our long-term economic prosperity. To learn more about the FCC visit www.FloridaConservationCoalition.org.

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