Collier County Conservation
Photo by Clay Henderson
Saving Special Places • Building Better Communities
Voters Overwhelmingly Pass Conservation Collier
1000 Friends of Florida urged general election voters in Collier County to vote YES to reestablish funding for Conservation Collier in November 2020. We are pleased to announce that Conservation Collier was supported by 77% of the voters, with the program next going before the county commission to approve or deny. Nearly 60% of voters supported Conservation Collier when it first launched in 2002, but the millage assessment ended in 2013. If approved by the commission, the county will be able to resume its land acquisition efforts. The passage of Conservation Collier will allow continued acquisition, preservation and management of environmentally sensitive lands. It will protect drinking water quality, wildlife habitat, and environmentally sensitive lands, and reduce vulnerability to flooding and red tide. Thank you to voting yes to save Collier County’s special places!
Statement from 1000 Friends of Florida
September 29, 2020
Florida’s leading nonprofit advocate of sustainable development, 1000 Friends of Florida, urges general election voters in Collier County to vote YES to reestablish funding for Conservation Collier on the November 3rd ballot. Conservation Collier is a successful program to protect land, water and wildlife for generations to come. The measure is for an ad valorem levy in Collier County of 25 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value for the program, Conservation Collier, to acquire, preserve and manage environmentally sensitive lands.
Those funds would be available to keep land around rivers, lakes and estuaries undeveloped to protect them from polluted runoff that taints drinking water supplies and feeds algae and red tide. They would maintain habitat and movement corridors for panthers, black bears, wood storks and other vulnerable wildlife in the county. They would preserve natural rainwater storage areas to reduce flooding. They would open more natural land to the public for exercise and enjoyment, an especially valuable amenity during a pandemic. These lands also hold flood waters during storms and hurricanes, protecting our homes and businesses. All program spending would be fully disclosed to the public.
Conservation Collier first earned approval from county voters in 2002. In 2006, more than 80 percent of voters opted to extend the program, but its levy was rescinded, and the funding expired in 2013. A funding renewal through the November ballot measure would cost the owner of a home in the county assessed at $300,000 just $6.25 a month. With this local investment, Conservation Collier would be eligible for matching contributions from state, federal and private sources.
These essential investments would save environmentally sensitive acreage in Collier County, and maintain its many benefits before it is lost forever to development. With growth and development pressure increasing in the county, there is no time to waste.
This year the Florida Legislature and Governor tripled state funding for land conservation through Florida Forever. However, competition from Florida communities for those dollars is fierce, and the funding dedications still have not been restored to pre-2010 levels. Local governments that can contribute their own funds to land conservation are in the best position to qualify for matching state funds. They also have the resources themselves to continue protecting land regardless of politics in Tallahassee and Washington. Recognizing this reality, communities across Florida have created and financed local land conservation programs through a variety of local funding sources, often backed by voters. Since 1998, Florida voters have approved 97 land conservation ballot measures, according to the Trust for Public Land.
1000 Friends’ support for Collier’s ballot measure comes from our decades of promoting growth management and conservation throughout Florida. If environmentally sensitive land in the county is protected from development, more growth will be directed toward areas with the infrastructure in place to support it. This smarter approach will not only reduce the impact of development on fragile land, water and wildlife; it will also cushion the blow to taxpayers, who won’t get stuck with the cost of extending public services to remote areas. Collier County residents deserve policies that are environmentally and taxpayer friendly.
Rebooting Conservation Collier will help achieve a healthy balance between nature and development, and preserve the county’s water supply, natural beauty and quality of life. County residents, and their children, grandchildren and future generations, will reap the benefits. We urge voters to Vote YES for Conservation Collier on their November 3rd ballots.