On Monday in Jacksonville, Gov. Ron DeSantis visited Jacksonville Zoo’s Manatee Critical Care Center to roll out a promised increase of over $17 million in funding for manatee rehabilitation and habitat restoration in the new budget, with a specific focus on expanding acute care facilities.
“When we sign the budget into law, we will be approving and including more than $30 million to support efforts to protect Florida’s manatees and habitats,” DeSantis said. “This is record funding.”
The location was no accident.
As the Governor said, the Jacksonville location was the first of such facilities for manatees in Northeast Florida; it can “care for five to six manatees at a time” and “provides temporary housing and care until they can be returned to the wild.”
In addition to expanding the network of acute care facilities, the money would provide for restoration efforts to provide access to springs for manatees, habitat restorations, rescue and recovery, and pilot projects like supplemental feeding of manatees in southern parts of the state. The funding supports 12 new full-time employees.
Projects funded include a warm mineral springs project in Sarasota County, the Bonefish Cove project in the Lake Worth Lagoon, the Blue Spring Manatee Habitat Enhancement Project, the Indian River Lagoon seagrass cultivation project, and ongoing manatee rescue and rehabilitation projects with partners.
“We’re putting our money where our mouth is with this record funding,” said DeSantis, describing himself as “proud of the progress we’ve made over the last four years.”
Other state officials offered supportive comments and context for the announcement.
DEP Secretary Shawn Hamilton extolled this as part of DeSantis’ “bold vision” for the environment. FWC Executive Director Eric Sutton lauded the Governor and the Legislature for understanding the “interconnectedness between water quality and the health of our wildlife.”
Meanwhile, the private sector will have a chance to be part of the solution.
The Jacksonville Zoo is launching a capital program to expand its manatee habitat and rehab program and will solicit funds from corporate partners and donors to that end.
May 3, 2022 at 8:49 pm
welcome to florida where manatee’s are more precious than children
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