Gov. DeSantis signs law to protect Florida wildlife corridors
The Florida burrowing owl. Image via the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

BurrowingOwlsFWC
The corridor spans Florida, from the Panhandle to the Everglades.

Among the bills Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law this week is the Florida Wildlife Corridor Act.

The act (SB 976), which received the Legislature’s unanimous support, designates existing priorities in the Florida Ecological Greenways Network as the Florida Wildlife Corridor, spanning from the Panhandle to the Everglades. The corridor connects a large section of Florida’s conservation lands.

Sanford Republican Sen. Jason Brodeur initially filed the measure to authorize the state to look into and address the alarming siltation and overgrowth of the Little Wekiva in Seminole County. But through the committee process, lawmakers amended it to resemble Republican Rep. Keith Truenow‘s proposal, which focused on protecting and promoting wildlife habitat corridors.

“These provisions promote preservation and protection of vulnerable lands and waters, especially those needed to allow for the migration and genetic exchange of Florida’s apex predators, such as the black bear and the panther,” Brodeur said.

Conservation Florida, a founding partner of the Florida Wildlife Corridor Coalition, has been a partner in this effort since 2009. Protecting the corridor is one of the primary goals of the group, which works to engage landowners and government partners to protect critical properties to make the corridor vision a reality.

“The signing of the Florida Wildlife Corridor Act by Governor DeSantis marks a big win for land conservation in Florida and sparks both excitement and inspiration for Florida’s conservation future,” Conservation Florida CEO Traci Deen said.

“The Florida Wildlife Corridor provides a vision for Florida as a whole that protects the places we all love, provides habitat and room to roam for our native species, cleans and stores water, provides ample outdoor recreational opportunity, supports Florida’s family farms and ranches, all while accounting for Florida’s future growth,” Deen continued.

The 2021 budget includes $400 million for the Department of Environmental Protection’s Division of State Lands to conserve land through its Florida Forever program. Of that, $300 million will prioritize conserving wildlife corridors and both natural and agricultural landscapes.

Over 2 million acres of the Florida Wildlife Corridor are ranchlands.

More immediately, the bill would authorize a multi-agency study, to be completed by the end of the year, to figure out what is damaging the Little Wekiva, a beloved Central Florida waterway. The bill charges the Department of Environmental Protection, working with other agencies, to figure out what to do about it.

In the past couple of years, sediments have filled a stretch of the river north of State Road 434, not far from where the Florida Department of Transportation is overseeing the $2.3 billion, six-year overhaul of Interstate 4 through greater Orlando. The river has stopped flowing freely in some places and has flooded out to create new channels in others.

Renzo Downey

Renzo Downey covers state government for Florida Politics. After graduating from Northwestern University in 2019, Renzo began his reporting career in the Lone Star State, covering state government for the Austin American-Statesman. Shoot Renzo an email at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.


5 comments

  • John

    July 1, 2021 at 3:16 pm

    This is right out of the UN Agenda 21 play book. All associated with this are treasonous traitors. We will remember who you are.

  • Marla Hughes

    July 1, 2021 at 10:07 pm

    I’d love to see Otter Creek and Station Pond here in Levy County protected more. People come from out of the county and even out of state to trash them.

  • Tom Palmer

    July 2, 2021 at 8:36 am

    This was a major win for Florida’s environment. Despite the silly conspiracy talk posted above, all acquisitions will involve willing sellers who will be compensated based on appraisals to protect private property rights and the taxpayers.

  • Bebe Kanter

    July 5, 2021 at 3:49 pm

    How will this Bill affect the PANTHERS who used to roam in the new development called RIVERGRASS in Collier County?

  • Mindy Meadows

    July 6, 2021 at 12:24 pm

    It is so nice to see that some of our beautiful and unique habitats will be protected. Hopefully, this is just the beginning.

Comments are closed.


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