Indian River County


Saving Special Places • Building Better Communities

1000 Friends of Florida Endorses Indian River County Forever

October 19, 2022

Florida’s leading nonprofit advocate of sustainable communities, 1000 Friends of Florida, urges general election voters in Indian River County to protect their water, wildlife and quality of life by voting YES for land conservation on their November 8th ballot.  

The ballot measure would authorize Indian River County to issue general obligation bonds worth up to $50 million.Those funds would 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 would include the Sebastian River Greenway and the Atlantic Ridge, as well as portions of the Florida Wildlife Corridor.

Proceeds from the bonds would purchase and manage conservation lands from willing sellers, or permanently protect land from development while keeping it in private ownership through conservation easements. The bonds would be repaid within 20 years with a property tax of roughly 19.6 cents per $1,000 of assessed value. The owner of a house with an assessed value of $300,000 and a $50,000 homestead exemption would pay about $47 more a year.  All conservation spending would be fully disclosed to the public through annual, independent audits.

There is a long, proud tradition of public support for land conservation in Indian River County. In 1992, county voters authorized $26 million in bonds for that purpose. In 2004, they authorized another $50 million bond issue. That $76 million investment from county taxpayers has leveraged $62 million in matching funds from other public and private sources, and protected more than 12,000 acres on 41 properties. But thousands more acres of environmentally significant lands in the county have yet to be protected, and remain at risk of being lost forever to development as the county keeps growing, with negative impacts on water, wildlife and quality of life.

In recent years, the Florida Legislature has made sizable investments in land conservation, including hundreds of millions of dollars to protect the Florida Wildlife Corridor. However, competition is fierce among Florida communities for those dollars. Local governments that raise their own funds for conservation are in the best position to leverage matching money from state or federal sources. They also have the resources to continue protecting land regardless of politics in Tallahassee and Washington. Recognizing this reality, communities across Florida have created local land conservation programs, often through voter approval. It’s vital for Indian River County to keep pace.

Protecting land is good for the economy. It spares taxpayers the cost of extending and providing public services to remote, environmentally sensitive areas that are ill-suited for development. It promotes ecotourism. It increases nearby property values. And Indian River County’s experience confirms that local investments attract matching state and federal funds.

1000 Friends’ strong support for Indian River County’s ballot measure is based on our decades of promoting conservation and responsible growth throughout Florida. When critical natural lands are protected from development, more growth is directed toward already developed areas with the infrastructure to support it. This smarter approach not only reduces the impact of development on fragile land, water and wildlife; it also cushions the blow to taxpayers, who don’t get stuck with the bill for stretching public services to distant areas.

We urge Indian River County citizens to invest in a cleaner, greener and more prosperous future by voting YES for the November 8th land conservation measure.