More than two decades after Florida identified the need to save disappearing forests south of Miami, shrinking hammocks in the Keys and other sensitive land around the state, environmentalists fed up with politics getting in the way of conservation are taking their fight to the people.
In November, they will ask voters to approve a constitutional amendment — Amendment 1 on the ballot — that sets aside a third of taxes collected on real estate transactions over the next 20 years to conserve land and protect water.
The effort could potentially raise $10 billion and has already won support from a cross section of Florida interests: animals rights groups, local garden clubs, kayakers, bikers and even surfers. More than 700,000 signatures were collected to place the amendment on the ballot. To pass, 60 percent of voters must approve the Florida Water and Land Conservation Amendment.
Backers — citing drastic cuts to state spending on environmental land, as much as 95 percent by their estimate since 2009 — say the amendment simply restores money already promised by state lawmakers.