During his campaign for governor and after he was elected, Ron DeSantis promised Floridians he would be a champion for conservation lands. His website says he “will work with Florida’s legislative leadership to ensure proper funding is put toward conservation and preservation.”
But a conservation advocate grades the governor as low as an “F” on that promise. Lindsay Cross is the public lands advocate with Florida Conservation Voters.
“In regards to water and land conservation I think we have been only moderately successful. As you know, Governor DeSantis recommended $100 million for water and land conservation through the Land Acquisition Trust Fund to support programs like Florida Forever, the Rural and Family Lands Protection Program and the Florida Communities Trust. The budget recommended by the House and the Senate falls short of that at just $33 million. And what’s concerning is that historic funding for Florida Forever and those programs was at $300 million. So if you think, ‘you know, we got a third of the way,’ we’re only a tenth of the way where we need to be. So in many regards if we are grading on an “F” through “A” scale, we’re pretty low down into the “E”s or the “F”s.”
Governor [Ron DeSantis] could potentially veto the budget and say, ‘One of the reasons I’m vetoing it is because I want more money for conservation lands.’ Is that something that might happen?
“I don’t expect that would happen. I would have liked to have seen him make stronger statements about conservation funding throughout the process. I know that he did come out with that $100 million number and was strong about that. But I think that there needed to be more work from his team and working with Senate and House leadership to make sure that that was a priority for them as well.”
Cross also says the Legislature made a mistake by passing a bill to allow toll roads through rural parts of the state.
Last November Cross ran against incumbent State Senator Jeff Brandes but lost.