2022 Land Conservation


Photo by Jeff Spence

Saving Special Places • Building Better Communities

A Clean Sweep!  Land Referenda Approved in Alachua, Brevard, Indian River, Nassau and Polk Counties

In a clean sweep for conservation, we are pleased to report that voters in five counties — Polk, Brevard, Alachua, Indian River and Nassau — VOTED YES to support conservation measures on their ballots on November 8. This reflects the passion for and commitment to land conservation in our state, and 1000 Friends was proud to endorse these local initiatives.

Each of these counties will now have a local revenue stream dedicated to protecting environmentally sensitive land. And each will be in a better position to multiply their investments in land conservation by attracting matching state, federal and private funding.

At 1000 Friends, we’ve been advocates for land conservation since our founding in 1986, because of the many benefits it delivers, including

  • Protecting our waterways and our water supply
  • Reducing flood risk
  • Preserving wildlife habitat
  • Expanding outdoor recreation
  • Maintaining our quality of life and property values
  • Keeping our tourism economy healthy
  • And helping to steer development to where it’s most appropriate, in urban areas with the infrastructure in place to accommodate it

We hope any other counties in Florida that are considering launching or maintaining their own programs to protect land will be encouraged to move forward by this year’s election results, whether it’s through a new line item in their budgets or a future ballot measure. The results of this year’s election show that public support for land conservation in Florida is strong and bipartisan.

1000 Friends of Florida has long been a proud supporter of state and local land conservation programs. Our co-founder, Nathaniel Pryor Reed, played a leading role in establishing the landmark state Preservation 2000 program which, together with its successor Florida Forever, have protected more than 10 million acres of precious natural lands across our state. These programs are complemented by county ballot initiatives such as these which authorize local governments to secure local funds to match with state dollars to protect valuable lands.

For these reasons, 1000 Friends is proud to have endorsed the following successful referenda:

Alachua County

By a 52 to 48% margin, voters in Alachua County agreed to invest in their environment and quality of life by voting YES on their November 8th ballot to extend and expand the county’s popular and successful Wild Spaces & Public Places program.  Since its inception in 2000, Alachua County Forever has protected more than 34,000 acres in the county through purchases of land or development rights from willing sellers. More than 13,000 acres of that land has been protected just in the past six years, since voters last gave their approval for Wild Spaces & Public Places.

A 10-year penny sales tax replaces the existing half cent.  Half of the proceeds are dedicated to acquiring and improving environmentally sensitive land, and creating, improving and maintaining parks, trails and recreational facilities. The other half of the sales tax goes to road maintenance and resurfacing, affordable housing, bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure and other public facilities. Find out more here.

Brevard County

In Brevard County, 70 percent of voters overwhelmingly approved extending the county’s highly successful Environmentally Endangered Lands (EEL) program.  Since its launch in 1990, the EEL program has helped protect more than 28,000 acres of threatened habitat in Brevard County. But the county’s rapid growth and continuing stress on its waterways means there is much more to be done to reduce the harmful environmental impacts of development and expand outdoor recreational opportunities.

The measure levies a property tax of 14.65 cents per $1,000 of taxable value for 20 years, costing the owner of a house with a $200,000 taxable value $29.60 a year. This modest investment will maintain previously acquired conservation lands and finance up to $50 million in bonds to acquire new lands chosen to protect the Indian River Lagoon and St. Johns River.  Find out more here.

Indian River County

Residents of Indian River County overwhelmingly voted YES for land conservation on their November 8th ballot.  The ballot measure, approved by 78% of voters, authorizes Indian River County to issue general obligation bonds worth up to $50 million.

Those funds will be used to preserve environmentally significant lands to restore the Indian River Lagoon; protect waterways, natural areas, wildlife habitat, and drinking water; and construct public access improvements such as trails and parking to expand opportunities for outdoor recreation. In addition to land along the Indian River Lagoon, priorities for protection include the Sebastian River Greenway and the Atlantic Ridge, as well as portions of the Florida Wildlife Corridor.  Find out more here.

Nassau County

In Nassau County, 68% of voters said YES FOR BONDS on their November 8 ballot. By this action, they are helping to protect their water quality, wildlife habitat and the St. Mary’s, Nassau and Amelia rivers.

This ballot measure authorizes Nassau County to issue general obligation bonds worth up to $30 million for the county’s Conservation Land Acquisition and Management (CLAM) program.

Those funds will be used to purchase land from willing sellers to be protected from development, or to buy development rights on working farms and forests or other land that will remain on the tax rolls in private ownership and management. Both approaches respect landowners and property rights.  

Polk County

By 58%, Polk County voters said YES on their November 8th ballot to revive the county’s successful program to protect critical natural lands.  This measure will reinstitute a property tax of 20 cents per $1,000 of taxable value for 20 years, initially costing the average Polk County homeowner $2.50 a month. The funds generated will finance a bond issue of up to $75 million to purchase and manage environmentally significant lands, or purchase conservation easements to protect working ranch and forest lands from development.

Under Polk’s revived land conservation program, anyone can nominate a property for protection, but only land from willing sellers or donors will be considered. A citizens committee will review nominated properties using established and detailed criteria to evaluate and rank their priority, and then make recommendations to the County Commission. Find out more here.

Find out why 1000 Friends endorsed these referenda: