Photo by Paul Marcellini
Saving Special Places • Building Better Communities
Protecting Florida’s Lands
In addition to protecting our drinking water, sheltering wildlife, and providing a host of recreational opportunities, Florida’s natural lands are this state’s greatest economic asset. Safeguarding these remarkable “special places” is a top priority. 1000 Friends of Florida spearheads workable strategies to preserve them for our children and grandchildren to enjoy.
Over the years, 1000 Friends has played a key role in two of this state’s most significant programs to protect natural resources — Preservation 2000 and Florida Forever — supporting state funding for the acquisition of environmentally-sensitive land and establishing this state’s nationally recognized “emerald necklace” of greenways. From protecting wildlife habitat, to filtering our drinking water and air, to providing opportunities for recreation, these lands are what make Florida special.
We also know that conserving significant natural lands is one of the best means of ensuring that our urban areas will be viable places to invest in, and places where people will want to live. For this reason, 1000 Friends has spearheaded important projects like Florida 2070, Water 2070, and Trouble in Paradise to bring attention to critical issues facing our state. 1000 Friends also advocates at the state, regional and local levels for public policies and planning strategies to protect Florida’s natural lands.
Photo by Dennis Goodman
1000 Friends of Florida, the University of Florida GeoPlan Center and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services partnered to produce Florida 2070/Water 2070. This ground-breaking project has revealed that if we keep developing the way we do now, by 2070 more than a third of Florida’s lands will be developed and development-related water demand will more than double. On the other hand, if we promote more compact development patterns and increase protected natural lands, we will save 1.8 million acres of land from development and conserve an additional 5.8 million acres of natural and agricultural land.
The bottom line is that local governments should consider the long view, even when making development decisions on small tracts of land. The cumulative effect of multiple small land use changes will, over time, shape the future landscape of Florida for better or worse. Strategies to save special places include protecting vital conservation, agricultural and other working lands like those on Florida Forever and Florida Greenways lists, supporting funding for greenways and corridors that protect wildlife habitat and provide recreational opportunities, establishing incentives and increasing funding to help landowners conserve important agricultural lands and other working landscapes, and working to significantly lessen the impact of new development on Florida’s lands and waters.
Florida 2070 Recommendations
Here are some strategies that can help protect Florida’s agricultural, working and natural lands:
Save Special Places
• Protect vital conservation, agricultural and other working lands like those on Florida Forever and Florida Greenways lists.
• Support funding for greenways and corridors that protect wildlife habitat and provide recreational opportunities.
• Establish incentives and increase funding to help landowners conserve important agricultural lands and other working landscapes.
• Work to significantly lessen the impact of new development on Florida’s lands and waters.
Build Better Communities
• Support infill and redevelopment in a manner that is sensitive to existing communities.
• When new areas are developed, give priority to those areas near existing communities and infrastructure.
• Promote a mixture of homes, shops, schools and offices within close proximity.
• Include a range of housing choices to ensure affordability.
• Design communities for multiple transportation options, including walking, biking and public transportation.
• Protect significant historic and natural resources within communities.
Florida Forever Advocacy
1000 Friends founder Nathaniel Reed played a leading role in creating Florida’s leading conservation and recreation land acquisition program, Preservation 2000 and its successor, Florida Forever. Together these programs have resulted in the purchase of more than 2.5 million acres of land. But in most years since 2011, the Florida Legislature has failed to sufficiently fund the program.
In 2014 an overwhelming 75% of Florida voters supported the passage of Amendment 1, which allocated a third of the tax on real estate documents to be used for purchasing and restoring conservation lands through programs like Florida Forever. Despite this clarion call from concerned citizens, Florida’s legislators have consistently refused to fund this program in the manner voters intended, instead siphoning off funds to pay for existing environmental programs previously paid for out of general revenue, and falling far short of the intended allocation for the purchase of conservation lands.
1000 Friends is a leading advocate for funding Florida Forever in the manner intended, to protect this state’s imperiled natural lands and the waters they protect.
Here’s How You Can Help Generate Support for Funding Florida Forever:
Land Conservation Planning Strategies
Over the decades, a three-tiered approach to land conservation has evolved in Florida. The top includes large statewide and regional land acquisition and protection efforts intended to establish “islands” of protected and relatively intact habitats, such as promoted through Florida Forever and the earlier Preservation 2000 as described above.
Other statewide initiatives include Florida’s Greenways and Trails program – first launched by 1000 Friends of Florida and subsequently transferred to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection – which encompasses more than 10,000 miles of existing and proposed land trails along with 4,000 miles of designated paddling trails. Other large-scale planning initiatives under the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity including Areas of Critical State Concern, the Rural Land Stewardship Area Program, and Sector Planning.
The middle tier of land conservation initiatives focuses on creating regional and community-wide green infrastructure to promote conservation within large landholdings, large developments, and neighborhoods. This involves improving land use planning, development design, and best management practices by both the public and private sectors. Tools include incorporating conservation provisions into conservation elements and other sections of the local comprehensive plan, putting land under conservation easement, and promoting more compact development through comprehensive planning and other strategies.
The third tier includes programs directed at protecting habitats within neighborhoods and backyards, usually implemented by individual citizens, families and/or neighborhoods. Florida-specific programs include Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ and the Florida Water Star programs which are discussed in 1000 Friends’ Water 2070 project.
Moderate projections indicate that by 2070, Florida’s population will reach approximately 33.7 million residents, close to 15 million more than in 2010. What happens if Florida continues to develop as it has in the past, with development sprawling into rural and agricultural lands? What will our state look like if we choose more compact development patterns closer to existing development, and protect more natural lands?
Implementing Florida 2070: Successful Local Conservation Ballot Measures in Florida
Find out about proven strategies to assist Florida communities with the design and passage of local ballot measures to generate new public funds for parks and land conservation. The Trust for Public Land’s Conservation Finance program has helped pass 26 local ballot measures in Florida, creating over $1 billion in new funding for conservation.
Sustainable Landscaping Principles and Practices
Explore best practices, trends and market opportunities for sustainable landscaping in the State of Florida. Sustainable landscaping is a set of landscaping principles and practices which minimize environmental degradation and make more efficient use of energy, water and other natural resources.
Urban Tree Selection for Sustainability
What role can local governments and property owners play in promoting healthy ecosystems within urban environments? This webinar focuses on the importance of maintaining existing and selecting new sustainable vegetation for Florida communities with an emphasis on the role of local governments.