Gov. DeSantis extols conservation priorities, knocks climate activists
Aerial view of Everglades swamp, Florida.

Aerial view of Everglades swamp, Florida
Florida’s conservation plans aren’t about control, he said.

It’s a fine line for Gov. Ron DeSantis to make conservation a priority while eschewing climate politics of those who he may condemn as “woke.”

Florida keeps beating revenue projections, and in addition to his tax relief package, DeSantis intends to use some of that revenue to bolster commitments to conservation in the Everglades, coastal resiliency, and restoration of oyster beds and coral reefs.

“Florida, the beauty of Florida, conserving Florida’s beauty, protecting Florida’s beauty, has been a staple of our administration from the very start, over four years ago,” DeSantis said when rolling out his proposed budget.

“We made big, ambitious promises, but my view is, I don’t promise things unless I know I can follow through. I know this necessarily wasn’t going to be easy, but I felt we had the people of Florida behind us on this one. So, we set out an agenda, we said we would accomplish it, and not only did we accomplish it, we exceeded what we promised. It’s really been a golden age of conservation in the state of Florida.”

He noted the increase in water flow over four years from Lake Okeechobee through the Everglades, as shown in maps produced by the state. He reiterated his proposed $3.5 billion over four years for Everglades restoration.

“We’re going to be able to do for water quality in Everglades restoration: $1.1 billion. So, that’s a first step in reaching that $3.5 billion, obviously, that puts us on target to be able to do that over a four-year period,” DeSantis said. “That money has worked, that money is important, and we’re going to continue fighting for that.”

Reaction was positive to the proposal, which debuted in January.

“The restoration of America’s Everglades is paramount to Florida’s clean-water-based economy, and the Governor has made a concerted effort to ensure Florida significantly invests in its future,” Everglades Foundation CEO Eric Eikenberg said at the time.

“A reliable source of clean fresh water for nine million South Florida residents and countless tourists is at stake, and this announcement demonstrates that Everglades restoration and Florida’s resilience remain a top priority for the second term of his administration.”

Also, a state with a long coastline and a lot of coastal development means an ongoing battle with Mother Nature on shifting shorelines. 

“As we saw with (Hurricane) Ian and then of course with Nicole, it’s important to be able to bolster those coastlines,” DeSantis said.

The DeSantis administration proposes $406 million for coastal resiliency programs and projects, along with $156 million for beach renourishment.

“As Florida continues to recover from 2022’s devastating hurricanes, it is more important than ever that our leaders prioritize resilience and climate solutions,” said Dawn Shirreffs, Florida Director for the Environmental Defense Fund.

“Thank you Gov. Ron DeSantis for your funding recommendation of $406 million for resilience and to keeping Florida, Florida. We look forward to (continuing) working with you, the Legislature and the Office of Resilience to strengthen the Sunshine State.”

Those proposed amounts are in addition to the $100 million for beach renourishment recently agreed to by the Legislature in December.

Another $15 million is to go to oyster restoration efforts around Apalachicola, and $21.2 million for coral reef restoration.

Don’t take these otherwise green initiatives as any indication DeSantis is changing his tune on climate politics, though.

“What I have said is, you will have people that say, under climate change, that gives them the right to regulate and control everything people do, and we reject that in the state of Florida,” DeSantis said.

“They claim climate change for gas stoves. They claim all this stuff. Notice how they don’t like gas, natural gas, they don’t like oil, they say it all should be windmills and solar panels, but what’s the cleanest of all? Nuclear. They almost all oppose nuclear.”

Florida’s conservation plans aren’t about control, he said.

“What we do is — I have vulnerable areas in the state of Florida,” DeSantis said. “We’re a storm-prone state. If you look at what happened in Ian, some of the areas that had been fortified after Charley and even a little after Irma, they did much better.”

Wes Wolfe

Wes Wolfe is a reporter who's worked for newspapers across the South, winning press association awards for his work in Georgia and the Carolinas. He lives in Jacksonville and previously covered state politics, environmental issues and courts for the News-Leader in Fernandina Beach. You can reach Wes at [email protected] and @WesWolfeFP. Facebook:


  • Ray Del Papa

    February 1, 2023 at 5:55 pm

    Mr Desantis doesn’t address the root cause of our climate emergency, co2 emissions. Like to many politicians, both Republican and Democrat, the climate emergency brings words, but extremely little action.
    Desantis however, does a fancy dance around that main source of the climate emergency, co2. He loves to pull rabbits out of his talking points hat like nuclear power, but fails to mention the high cost and those lingering memories of three huge disasters. No Ron we are on to your BS, you will not take any real action, only a continued dose of Blah, Blah, Blah.

    • Keystone Keys

      February 1, 2023 at 7:48 pm

      Another Climate Crazy. Typing why your computer is plugged into the power grid to opine on this no doubt. Total hypocrite. That this bothers you, and people like you, makes what the Governor is doing even more enjoyable.

      • cassandra

        February 2, 2023 at 12:50 pm

        Ray Del Papa is correct about Ron failing Florida. And, using whatever power comes out of the wall socket does not make one a hypocrite. You’ve got nothing so you resort to ad hominem attacks. BTW, KeKe, that is not a *hat* that moRon is pulling rabbits out of.

  • Jim Cline

    February 2, 2023 at 9:10 am

    The Governor is setting himself up for a national election. Conservation is popular among most of the electorate except for the West, where he will still probably get the electoral votes he needs. He is looking for independents at this point. With his creepy personality, like Nixon, good luck with that!

Comments are closed.


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