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Environmental groups reach signature threshold for conservation amendment

Environmental groups announced a major hurdle Thursday in their attempt to put on the 2014 ballot a constitutional amendment to set aside $10 billion over 20 years to purchase and maintain conservation lands without raising taxes.

The measure, known as the Florida Water and Land Legacy Amendment, received enough verified signatures to have the legal language reviewed by the Florida Supreme Court.

The proposal is backed by former U.S. Sen. Bob Graham and 256 environmental groups across Florida. It would set aside 33 percent of documentary tax collected on real estate transactions for 20 years for land and water purchases, leases and restoration efforts.

The language of the amendment must next be approved by the Florida Supreme Court to be placed on the ballot.

Here's the release:

Florida Water and Land Water Conservation Amendment Reaches Florida Supreme Court

TALLAHASSEE — Florida’s Water and Land Legacy Campaign today took a major step forward in getting the Water and Land Conservation amendment on the ballot by crossing the ten percent threshold for Supreme Court review.  For a state constitutional amendment seeking to gain access to the ballot by collecting signatures, legal review of the amendment by the Florida Supreme Court is triggered when ten percent of the total 683,149 signatures required—or 68,314—are collected.  The campaign has collected 116, 573 signatures across Florida, far exceeding the ten percent threshold.  The amendment will provide a stable, dedicated funding source for the acquisition, management, and restoration of conservation and recreation lands in Florida.  The Water and Land Conservation amendment would be on the November 2014 ballot.

The Florida Department of State has verified the 68,314 signatures, sending the amendment to the Florida Supreme Court.  The court will review the ballot measure to confirm that it satisfies the legal requirements for a constitutional amendment.

“This campaign to protect Florida’s environmental legacy is gaining public support across the state and we are well on our way to getting this important measure on the ballot,” said Will Abberger, the campaign’s chair and director of conservation finance for The Trust for Public Land. “This amendment will ensure state funds are dedicated to protecting the natural systems Floridians depend on for clean drinking water, unpolluted rivers, lakes and streams, and the unspoiled natural beauty that makes our state unique.”

The amendment would dedicate one-third of the existing documentary stamp tax, which is paid when real estate is sold, to restore the Everglades, protect drinking water sources, and revive the state’s historic commitment to protecting natural lands and wildlife through the Florida Forever Program.  The amendment would provide more than $5 billion for water and land conservation in Florida over the next ten years without any tax increase.

Florida’s Water and Land Legacy Campaign also announced that it has gained the official endorsement of 256 organizations that are adding momentum to its efforts to pass the amendment.

“We are thrilled to have such passionate supporters from throughout the state,” said Pegeen Hanrahan, the campaign’s manager. “So many diverse organizations have already committed to back this important endeavor, and we look forward to many more joining our cause.”

Florida’s Water and Land Legacy Campaign attributes much of its success to the invaluable service of its volunteers and generous contributions of donors. If you are interested in supporting the Water and Land Conservation amendment, please visit to learn more.