Conserving Land

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.

Brown Stork

Photo by Dennis Goodman

Florida 2070 Projections




Developed Projected Other
Agriculture Other

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.

1000 Friends of Florida Newsletter Spring 2017

Florida 2070/Water 2070

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:


Meet with your legislators before the session starts and help them understand how their district will benefit from funding Florida Forever. Ask legislators to champion a funding commitment source for land conservation. Ask them to collaborate on an op ed.


Target your message to your legislators’ concerns and perspectives. Some are persuaded by logic, others by emotion. Politicians also likely focus on the political consequences of a decision. Prepare concise talking points to develop a convincing narrative. Provide visuals (photos or videos) when possible.


Organize visits to conservation lands to share your love for natural Florida and why these lands are essential to Florida’s environment, economy and quality of life. Invite legislators, local elected officials, editorial board members and other journalists. Make sure you have permission to visit the land and that the elected officials have agreed to having members of the media present.


Work with your local elected officials to sponsor adoption of a resolution in support of a dedicated funding source for land conservation. Ask them to have the local government make it one a legislative priority. Ask them to meet with legislators in support of funding. Ask them to collaborate on an op ed.


Help organize a rally at a local conservation property with other interested organizations and individuals, and/or attend a rally.


Attend your legislators’ town halls or delegation meetings. Find out the dates, share the word, prepare questions and attend.


Write op eds or letters-to-the-editor, meet with your newspaper’s editorial board, or contact journalists with story ideas. Don’t forget about weekly and monthly local publications, talk radio, public radio, television stations with weekend public affairs programs.


Share information on social media. If a post or article resonates with you, consider spending $5 to share it with friends of friends.

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.

Rural Report Cover

Working to sustain Florida’s rural
and natural lands: A call to action

Wildlife Planning

Wildlife habitat planning strategies

Local Land Referenda in Florida

Over the decades, 1000 Friends of Florida has been pleased to support a number of county land referenda to protect local lands. In 2022, 1000 Friends’ endorsed successful land referenda initiatives in Alachua, Brevard, Indian River, Nassau, and Polk Counties.  Find out more here.

In 2020, 1000 Friends of Florida proudly endorsed land referenda in Collier, Manatee, and Volusia counties, and voters overwhelmingly voted yes on local ballot initiatives that authorized modest tax increases to protect their natural lands and waters. These initiatives provide important funds to protect local lands that store and cleanse drinking water, provide abundant recreational opportunities, and protect threatened wildlife and their habitat.

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 those described above, authorizing local governments to secure local funds to match with state dollars to protect valuable lands.

By saving Florida’s special places today we are protecting our quality of life for us, our children and future generations. Thank you!

Forces of Nature: Land Conservation in Florida with Clay Henderson

In his newly released book, Forces of Nature: A History of Florida Land Conservation, noted environmental lawyer and educator Clay Henderson discusses the evolution of conservation in Florida.  Henderson celebrates the individuals and organizations who made the Sunshine State a leader in state-funded conservation and land preservation. For this webinar, he will focus specifically on the intersection between land conservation and growth management in Florida. He will also cover challenges facing land conservation in Florida today, with recommendations on moving forward. Forces of Nature will motivate Floridians to join in defending our state’s natural wonders.

The Legacy of the Swamp Peddlers with Jason Vuic

In 2021, award-winning author Jason Vuic published The Swamp Peddlers, a tale of misguided land development in Florida during the grow-at-any-cost 1950s and ’60s. Jason discusses the legacy of these “swamp peddlers” who continue to impact the way Florida grows and develops to this day. With lessons from Hurricane Ian, he weaves in his thoughts on a more sustainable future. A skilled lecturer and speaker, Jason has appeared on NPR’s “Weekend Edition,” APM’s “Marketplace,” “Fox and Friends,” CBC’s “The Current,” and C-SPAN’S “Book TV.” The Swamp Peddlers won the Phillip and Dana Zimmerman Gold Medal Prize for Florida Nonfiction at the 2021 Florida Book Awards, as well as the 2021 Charlton Tebeau Award for outstanding general interest book from the Florida Historical Society.

Lessons from the Ocklawaha

The campaign to “Free the Ocklawaha” is moving forward, offering lessons for other parts of Florida.  Dammed in 1968, the iconic Ocklawaha River once connected Silver Springs to the St. John’s River and the Atlantic Ocean.  Free the Ocklawaha River Coalition Chair Margaret Spontak provides an overview of the campaign and recent polling.  Florida Springs Council President Casey Fitzgerald summarizes the environmental benefits of restoration along the 215-mile Great Florida Riverway including Silver Springs and the 20 “lost” springs.  Dominic Calabro, President & CEO of Florida TaxWatch, discusses their recent economic analysis of removing the dam and restoring the flow.  St. Johns Riverkeeper Lisa Rinaman wraps up with a brief review of lessons learned and next steps.  The session will conclude with a question-and-answer period, moderated by Vivian Young, AICP.

Supporting Land Conservation Initiatives in Florida

Find out about two key land conservation initiatives in Florida and how you can support them. See an excellent overview of the Florida Forever program, our state’s major conservation and recreation lands acquisition program, and how to support more robust funding for this key program.  Also explore the Sentinel Landscapes Partnership, a coalition of federal agencies, state and local governments and non-governmental organizations working with private landowners in Florida and across the nation to advance sustainable land management practices around military installations and ranges, including land conservation, agriculture and forestry, and climate resilience.

Florida 2070

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.