POINCIANA, FL (STL.News) Governor Ron DeSantis celebrated the signing of Senate Bill 976, The Florida Wildlife Corridor Act. The legislation directs the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to encourage and promote investments in areas that protect and enhance the Florida Wildlife Corridor. To support these efforts, the Florida Leads budget dedicates $300 million specifically to protect the Florida Wildlife Corridor. This funding is in addition to the $100 million that is allocated to the Florida Forever program.
“Today we celebrate another milestone of this year’s legislative session, which was a resounding success for Florida’s environment,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “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.”
This funding can be used for the acquisition of Florida Wildlife Corridor lands, in fee simple or conservation easements.? The legislation designates the Florida Wildlife Corridor as an existing physical, geographically defined area comprised of 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. The Florida Wildlife 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.
“Thanks to the Governor’s bold vision and the continued support of the legislature, Florida’s environmental priorities have remained strong, including land acquisition for protection of our natural resources and wildlife,” said Interim Secretary Shawn Hamilton. “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.”
“I thank Governor DeSantis and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection for their investment in the Florida Wildlife Corridor Act,” said Carlton Ward, Jr., National Geographic Explorer and founder of the Path of the Panther project. “Through their leadership, Florida will set a global example for how world-class natural areas, like the Everglades; rare and endangered wildlife, like the Florida panther; and a robust and growing economy can thrive together.”
“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,” said The Nature Conservancy in Florida Executive Director Temperince Morgan. “There is great economic opportunity in the preservation of our natural places, and the importance of access to nature for our physical and mental wellbeing, as well as for recreational opportunities cannot be understated. The signing of the Florida Wildlife Corridor bill demonstrates the Florida Legislature, Governor DeSantis and the state’s continued commitment to protecting rare and sensitive lands.”
“The signing of the Florida Wildlife Corridor Act by Governor DeSantis marks a big win for land conservation in Florida and sparks both excitement and inspiration for Florida’s conservation future,” said Conservation Florida CEO Traci Deen. “Conservation Florida is thrilled to celebrate the signing of the Act into law and is grateful for the Governor’s leadership on this historic day.”
“Preserving and expanding Florida’s Wildlife Corridor will ensure more of Florida’s unique natural habitats are maintained for future generations of Floridians,” said Florida Senate President Wilton Simpson. “Governor DeSantis has always been a champion of Florida’s environment and I appreciate his support of this key initiative.”
Our children and grandchildren deserve to know, and enjoy, the same beautiful Florida that we do,” said House Speaker Chris Sprowls. “This landmark legislation will ensure that Florida’s distinctive ecosystem continues to flourish. Governor DeSantis has made sensible, solution-oriented environmental policy a priority during his time in office and along with President Simpson’s expertise with agriculture and conservation planning, we were able pass this important bill unanimously through the legislature. I thank Governor DeSantis for his leadership, and congratulate President Simpson, Senator Brodeur and Representative Truenow for their hard work on this bill that will benefit Floridians for generations.”
“From the study of the Little Wekiva River to the creation of the Florida Wildlife Corridor Act, we are taking important steps toward the preservation and protection of vulnerable lands and waters – particularly those needed to allow for the migration and genetic exchange of Florida’s apex predators, especially black bears and panthers,” said Senator Jason Brodeur.
“The Wildlife Corridor Act is a major first step to ensuring Florida’s ecological future,” said Representative Keith Truenow. “To emphasize the importance of this legislation, the House and Senate agreed to allocating $300 million towards this effort. I was very proud to work on this very important piece of legislation.”