Florida Forever Threatened

TALLAHASSEE (2009-05-04) -

Usually, about $300 million is set aside each year for Florida Forever. This year, it looks like the Legislature will cut all its funding. But lawmakers point out it still has $250 million in existing bonds that can keep the program afloat this year. Janet Bowman of The Nature Conservancy's Tallahassee office says she's hopeful budget cuts won't be as severe next year.

"Sen. Alexander in the Senate has said the Senate intends to fully fund Florida Forever next year," says Bowman. "But the House has been more reluctant to fund it, and has put forth proposals to link Florida Forever funding with oil drilling, for example."

That bill, which would allow oil drilling within sight of Florida's beaches, also died in committee. Bowman says one of the ripple effects of the cutbacks will be eliminating matching grants that are given to conservation efforts run by the state's counties and cities.

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