Coming off the endangered species list is no guarantee a species’ continued survival is going swimmingly. Consider the manatee.
Four years since getting dropped from the endangered species list, Florida’s iconic mammals are dying in record numbers. They might be Exhibit A for legislation that would require continued state monitoring of any species that gets de-listed from federal concern.
Democratic Sen. Shevrin Jones of West Park has introduced a bill (SB 238) that would require Florida officials to continue protecting endangered and threatened species, even after the federal government removes a species from its list of “endangered” or “threatened” species.
The bill would also prohibit the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Department of Environmental Protection from weighing the cost of protecting a species of concern as a factor in the decision to monitor and protect.
“Our vibrant natural resources and unique ecosystems are among Florida’s greatest assets as they drive our economy and way of life,” Jones said in a released statement. “Protecting our most at-risk species requires commitment from all of us to ensure the resources that every community depends upon are still here for future generations.”
A third more manatees have died this year than in 2020 and 2019 and there’s still a third of the year left to go.
Environmental legislation had some success last year many saw as a step forward. The Session passed two bills, SB 1954 and SB 2514 that set aside hundreds of millions of state dollars for flooding infrastructure projects.
None of Jones’ House colleagues have yet filed a companion bill.
Before the Legislative Session begins on Jan. 11, the House and Senate will hold six weeks of committee meetings, starting Monday. Legislative priorities start taking shape.