2005 Florida Statutes
The Florida Forever Act.
259.105 The Florida Forever Act.--
(1) This section may be cited as the "Florida Forever Act."
(2)(a) The Legislature finds and declares that:
1. The Preservation 2000 program provided tremendous financial resources for purchasing environmentally significant lands to protect those lands from imminent development, thereby assuring present and future generations access to important open spaces and recreation and conservation lands.
2. The continued alteration and development of Florida's natural areas to accommodate the state's rapidly growing population have contributed to the degradation of water resources, the fragmentation and destruction of wildlife habitats, the loss of outdoor recreation space, and the diminishment of wetlands, forests, and public beaches.
3. The potential development of Florida's remaining natural areas and escalation of land values require a continuation of government efforts to restore, bring under public protection, or acquire lands and water areas to preserve the state's invaluable quality of life.
4. Florida's groundwater, surface waters, and springs are under tremendous pressure due to population growth and economic expansion and require special protection and restoration efforts. To ensure that sufficient quantities of water are available to meet the current and future needs of the natural systems and citizens of the state, and assist in achieving the planning goals of the department and the water management districts, water resource development projects on public lands, where compatible with the resource values of and management objectives for the lands, are appropriate.
5. The needs of urban Florida for high-quality outdoor recreational opportunities, greenways, trails, and open space have not been fully met by previous acquisition programs. Through such programs as the Florida Communities Trust and the Florida Recreation Development Assistance Program, the state shall place additional emphasis on acquiring, protecting, preserving, and restoring open space, greenways, and recreation properties within urban areas where pristine natural communities or water bodies no longer exist because of the proximity of developed property.
6. Many of Florida's unique ecosystems, such as the Florida Everglades, are facing ecological collapse due to Florida's burgeoning population. To preserve these valuable ecosystems for future generations, parcels of land must be acquired to facilitate ecosystem restoration.
7. Access to public lands to support a broad range of outdoor recreational opportunities and the development of necessary infrastructure, where compatible with the resource values of and management objectives for such lands, promotes an appreciation for Florida's natural assets and improves the quality of life.
8. Acquisition of lands, in fee simple or in any lesser interest, should be based on a comprehensive assessment of Florida's natural resources and planned so as to protect the integrity of ecological systems and provide multiple benefits, including preservation of fish and wildlife habitat, recreation space for urban as well as rural areas, and water recharge.
9. The state has embraced performance-based program budgeting as a tool to evaluate the achievements of publicly funded agencies, build in accountability, and reward those agencies which are able to consistently achieve quantifiable goals. While previous and existing state environmental programs have achieved varying degrees of success, few of these programs can be evaluated as to the extent of their achievements, primarily because performance measures, standards, outcomes, and goals were not established at the outset. Therefore, the Florida Forever program shall be developed and implemented in the context of measurable state goals and objectives.
10. It is the intent of the Legislature to change the focus and direction of the state's major land acquisition programs and to extend funding and bonding capabilities, so that future generations may enjoy the natural resources of Florida.
(b) The Legislature recognizes that acquisition is only one way to achieve the aforementioned goals and encourages the development of creative partnerships between governmental agencies and private landowners. Land protection agreements and similar tools should be used, where appropriate, to bring environmentally sensitive tracts under an acceptable level of protection at a lower financial cost to the public, and to provide private landowners with the opportunity to enjoy and benefit from their property.
(c) Public agencies or other entities that receive funds under this section are encouraged to better coordinate their expenditures so that project acquisitions, when combined with acquisitions under Preservation 2000, Save Our Rivers, the Florida Communities Trust, and other public land acquisition programs, will form more complete patterns of protection for natural areas and functioning ecosystems, to better accomplish the intent of this section.
(d) A long-term financial commitment to managing Florida's public lands must accompany any new land acquisition program to ensure that the natural resource values of such lands are protected, that the public has the opportunity to enjoy the lands to their fullest potential, and that the state achieves the full benefits of its investment of public dollars.
(e) With limited dollars available for restoration and acquisition of land and water areas and for providing long-term management and capital improvements, a competitive selection process can select those projects best able to meet the goals of Florida Forever and maximize the efficient use of the program's funding.
(f) To ensure success and provide accountability to the citizens of this state, it is the intent of the Legislature that any bond proceeds used pursuant to this section be used to implement the goals and objectives recommended by the Florida Forever Advisory Council as approved by the Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund and the Legislature.
(g) As it has with previous land acquisition programs, the Legislature recognizes the desires of the citizens of this state to prosper through economic development and to preserve the natural areas and recreational open space of Florida. The Legislature further recognizes the urgency of restoring the natural functions of public lands or water bodies before they are degraded to a point where recovery may never occur, yet acknowledges the difficulty of ensuring adequate funding for restoration efforts in light of other equally critical financial needs of the state. It is the Legislature's desire and intent to fund the implementation of this section and to do so in a fiscally responsible manner, by issuing bonds to be repaid with documentary stamp tax revenue.
(3) Less the costs of issuing and the costs of funding reserve accounts and other costs associated with bonds, the proceeds of bonds issued pursuant to this section shall be deposited into the Florida Forever Trust Fund created by s. 259.1051 The proceeds shall be distributed by the Department of Environmental Protection in the following manner:
(a) Thirty-five percent to the Department of Environmental Protection for the acquisition of lands and capital project expenditures necessary to implement the water management districts' priority lists developed pursuant to s. 373.199 The funds are to be distributed to the water management districts as provided in subsection (11). A minimum of 50 percent of the total funds provided over the life of the Florida Forever program pursuant to this paragraph shall be used for the acquisition of lands.
(b) Thirty-five percent to the Department of Environmental Protection for the acquisition of lands and capital project expenditures described in this section. Of the proceeds distributed pursuant to this paragraph, it is the intent of the Legislature that an increased priority be given to those acquisitions which achieve a combination of conservation goals, including protecting Florida's water resources and natural groundwater recharge. Capital project expenditures may not exceed 10 percent of the funds allocated pursuant to this paragraph.
(c) Twenty-two percent to the Department of Community Affairs for use by the Florida Communities Trust for the purposes of part III of chapter 380, as described and limited by this subsection, and grants to local governments or nonprofit environmental organizations that are tax exempt under s. 501(c)(3) of the United States Internal Revenue Code for the acquisition of community-based projects, urban open spaces, parks, and greenways to implement local government comprehensive plans. From funds available to the trust and used for land acquisition, 75 percent shall be matched by local governments on a dollar-for-dollar basis. The Legislature intends that the Florida Communities Trust emphasize funding projects in low-income or otherwise disadvantaged communities. At least 30 percent of the total allocation provided to the trust shall be used in Standard Metropolitan Statistical Areas, but one-half of that amount shall be used in localities in which the project site is located in built-up commercial, industrial, or mixed-use areas and functions to intersperse open spaces within congested urban core areas. From funds allocated to the trust, no less than 5 percent shall be used to acquire lands for recreational trail systems, provided that in the event these funds are not needed for such projects, they will be available for other trust projects. Local governments may use federal grants or loans, private donations, or environmental mitigation funds, including environmental mitigation funds required pursuant to s. 338.250, for any part or all of any local match required for acquisitions funded through the Florida Communities Trust. Any lands purchased by nonprofit organizations using funds allocated under this paragraph must provide for such lands to remain permanently in public use through a reversion of title to local or state government, conservation easement, or other appropriate mechanism. Projects funded with funds allocated to the Trust shall be selected in a competitive process measured against criteria adopted in rule by the Trust.
(d) Two percent to the Department of Environmental Protection for grants pursuant to s. 375.075
(e) One and five-tenths percent to the Department of Environmental Protection for the purchase of inholdings and additions to state parks and for capital project expenditures as described in this section. Capital project expenditures may not exceed 10 percent of the funds allocated under this paragraph. For the purposes of this paragraph, "state park" means any real property in the state which is under the jurisdiction of the Division of Recreation and Parks of the department, or which may come under its jurisdiction.
(f) One and five-tenths percent to the Division of Forestry of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to fund the acquisition of state forest inholdings and additions pursuant to s. 589.07, the implementation of reforestation plans or sustainable forestry management practices, and for capital project expenditures as described in this section. Capital project expenditures may not exceed 10 percent of the funds allocated under this paragraph.
(g) One and five-tenths percent to the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to fund the acquisition of inholdings and additions to lands managed by the commission which are important to the conservation of fish and wildlife and for capital project expenditures as described in this section. Capital project expenditures may not exceed 10 percent of the funds allocated under this paragraph.
(h) One and five-tenths percent to the Department of Environmental Protection for the Florida Greenways and Trails Program, to acquire greenways and trails or greenways and trail systems pursuant to chapter 260, including, but not limited to, abandoned railroad rights-of-way and the Florida National Scenic Trail and for capital project expenditures as described in this section. Capital project expenditures may not exceed 10 percent of the funds allocated under this paragraph.
(i) It is the intent of the Legislature that proceeds of Florida Forever bonds distributed under this section shall be expended in an efficient and fiscally responsible manner. An agency that receives proceeds from Florida Forever bonds under this section may not maintain a balance of unencumbered funds in its Florida Forever subaccount beyond 3 fiscal years from the date of deposit of funds from each bond issue. Any funds that have not been expended or encumbered after 3 fiscal years from the date of deposit shall be distributed by the Legislature at its next regular session for use in the Florida Forever program.
(j) For the purposes of paragraphs (d), (e), (f), and (g), the agencies which receive the funds shall develop their individual acquisition or restoration lists. Proposed additions may be acquired if they are identified within the original project boundary, the management plan required pursuant to s. 253.034(5), or the management prospectus required pursuant to s. 259.032(9)(d). Proposed additions not meeting the requirements of this paragraph shall be submitted to the Acquisition and Restoration Council for approval. The council may only approve the proposed addition if it meets two or more of the following criteria: serves as a link or corridor to other publicly owned property; enhances the protection or management of the property; would add a desirable resource to the property; would create a more manageable boundary configuration; has a high resource value that otherwise would be unprotected; or can be acquired at less than fair market value.
(4) It is the intent of the Legislature that projects or acquisitions funded pursuant to paragraphs (3)(a) and (b) contribute to the achievement of the following goals:
(a) Enhance the coordination and completion of land acquisition projects, as measured by:
1. The number of acres acquired through the state's land acquisition programs that contribute to the completion of Florida Preservation 2000 projects or projects begun before Preservation 2000;
2. The number of acres protected through the use of alternatives to fee simple acquisition; or
3. The number of shared acquisition projects among Florida Forever funding partners and partners with other funding sources, including local governments and the Federal Government.
(b) Increase the protection of Florida's biodiversity at the species, natural community, and landscape levels, as measured by:
1. The number of acres acquired of significant strategic habitat conservation areas;
2. The number of acres acquired of highest priority conservation areas for Florida's rarest species;
3. The number of acres acquired of significant landscapes, landscape linkages, and conservation corridors, giving priority to completing linkages;
4. The number of acres acquired of underrepresented native ecosystems;
5. The number of landscape-sized protection areas of at least 50,000 acres that exhibit a mosaic of predominantly intact or restorable natural communities established through new acquisition projects or augmentations to previous projects; or
6. The percentage increase in the number of occurrences of endangered species, threatened species, or species of special concern on publicly managed conservation areas.
(c) Protect, restore, and maintain the quality and natural functions of land, water, and wetland systems of the state, as measured by:
1. The number of acres of publicly owned land identified as needing restoration, acres undergoing restoration, and acres with restoration activities completed;
2. The percentage of water segments that fully meet, partially meet, or do not meet their designated uses as reported in the Department of Environmental Protection's State Water Quality Assessment 305(b) Report;
3. The percentage completion of targeted capital improvements in surface water improvement and management plans created under s. 373.453(2), regional or master stormwater management system plans, or other adopted restoration plans;
4. The number of acres acquired that protect natural floodplain functions;
5. The number of acres acquired that protect surface waters of the state;
6. The number of acres identified for acquisition to minimize damage from flooding and the percentage of those acres acquired;
7. The number of acres acquired that protect fragile coastal resources;
8. The number of acres of functional wetland systems protected;
9. The percentage of miles of critically eroding beaches contiguous with public lands that are restored or protected from further erosion;
10. The percentage of public lakes and rivers in which invasive, nonnative aquatic plants are under maintenance control; or
11. The number of acres of public conservation lands in which upland invasive, exotic plants are under maintenance control.
(d) Ensure that sufficient quantities of water are available to meet the current and future needs of natural systems and the citizens of the state, as measured by:
1. The number of acres acquired which provide retention and storage of surface water in naturally occurring storage areas, such as lakes and wetlands, consistent with the maintenance of water resources or water supplies and consistent with district water supply plans;
2. The quantity of water made available through the water resource development component of a district water supply plan for which a water management district is responsible; or
3. The number of acres acquired of groundwater recharge areas critical to springs, sinks, aquifers, other natural systems, or water supply.
(e) Increase natural resource-based public recreational and educational opportunities, as measured by:
1. The number of acres acquired that are available for natural resource-based public recreation or education;
2. The miles of trails that are available for public recreation, giving priority to those that provide significant connections including those that will assist in completing the Florida National Scenic Trail; or
3. The number of new resource-based recreation facilities, by type, made available on public land.
(f) Preserve significant archaeological or historic sites, as measured by:
1. The increase in the number of and percentage of historic and archaeological properties listed in the Florida Master Site File or National Register of Historic Places which are protected or preserved for public use; or
2. The increase in the number and percentage of historic and archaeological properties that are in state ownership.
(g) Increase the amount of forestland available for sustainable management of natural resources, as measured by:
1. The number of acres acquired that are available for sustainable forest management;
2. The number of acres of state-owned forestland managed for economic return in accordance with current best management practices;
3. The number of acres of forestland acquired that will serve to maintain natural groundwater recharge functions; or
4. The percentage and number of acres identified for restoration actually restored by reforestation.
(h) Increase the amount of open space available in urban areas, as measured by:
1. The percentage of local governments that participate in land acquisition programs and acquire open space in urban cores; or
2. The percentage and number of acres of purchases of open space within urban service areas.
Florida Forever projects and acquisitions funded pursuant to paragraph (3)(c) shall be measured by goals developed by rule by the Florida Communities Trust Governing Board created in s. 380.504
(5)(a) All lands acquired pursuant to this section shall be managed for multiple-use purposes, where compatible with the resource values of and management objectives for such lands. As used in this section, "multiple-use" includes, but is not limited to, outdoor recreational activities as described in ss. 253.034 and 259.032(9)(b), water resource development projects, and sustainable forestry management.
(b) Upon a decision by the entity in which title to lands acquired pursuant to this section has vested, such lands may be designated single use as defined in s. 253.034(2)(b).
(6) As provided in this section, a water resource or water supply development project may be allowed only if the following conditions are met: minimum flows and levels have been established for those waters, if any, which may reasonably be expected to experience significant harm to water resources as a result of the project; the project complies with all applicable permitting requirements; and the project is consistent with the regional water supply plan, if any, of the water management district and with relevant recovery or prevention strategies if required pursuant to s. 373.0421(2).
(7)(a) Beginning no later than July 1, 2001, and every year thereafter, the Acquisition and Restoration Council shall accept applications from state agencies, local governments, nonprofit and for-profit organizations, private land trusts, and individuals for project proposals eligible for funding pursuant to paragraph (3)(b). The council shall evaluate the proposals received pursuant to this subsection to ensure that they meet at least one of the criteria under subsection (9).
(b) Project applications shall contain, at a minimum, the following:
1. A minimum of two numeric performance measures that directly relate to the overall goals adopted by the council. Each performance measure shall include a baseline measurement, which is the current situation; a performance standard which the project sponsor anticipates the project will achieve; and the performance measurement itself, which should reflect the incremental improvements the project accomplishes towards achieving the performance standard.
2. Proof that property owners within any proposed acquisition have been notified of their inclusion in the proposed project. Any property owner may request the removal of such property from further consideration by submitting a request to the project sponsor or the Acquisition and Restoration Council by certified mail. Upon receiving this request, the council shall delete the property from the proposed project; however, the board of trustees, at the time it votes to approve the proposed project lists pursuant to subsection (16), may add the property back on to the project lists if it determines by a super majority of its members that such property is critical to achieve the purposes of the project.
(c) The title to lands acquired under this section shall vest in the Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund, except that title to lands acquired by a water management district shall vest in the name of that district and lands acquired by a local government shall vest in the name of the purchasing local government.
(8) The Acquisition and Restoration Council shall develop a project list that shall represent those projects submitted pursuant to subsection (7).
(9) The Acquisition and Restoration Council shall recommend rules for adoption by the board of trustees to competitively evaluate, select, and rank projects eligible for Florida Forever funds pursuant to paragraph (3)(b) and for additions to the Conservation and Recreation Lands list pursuant to ss. 259.032 and 259.101(4). In developing these proposed rules, the Acquisition and Restoration Council shall give weight to the following criteria:
(a) The project meets multiple goals described in subsection (4).
(b) The project is part of an ongoing governmental effort to restore, protect, or develop land areas or water resources.
(c) The project enhances or facilitates management of properties already under public ownership.
(d) The project has significant archaeological or historic value.
(e) The project has funding sources that are identified and assured through at least the first 2 years of the project.
(f) The project contributes to the solution of water resource problems on a regional basis.
(g) The project has a significant portion of its land area in imminent danger of development, in imminent danger of losing its significant natural attributes or recreational open space, or in imminent danger of subdivision which would result in multiple ownership and make acquisition of the project costly or less likely to be accomplished.
(h) The project implements an element from a plan developed by an ecosystem management team.
(i) The project is one of the components of the Everglades restoration effort.
(j) The project may be purchased at 80 percent of appraised value.
(k) The project may be acquired, in whole or in part, using alternatives to fee simple, including but not limited to, purchase of development rights, hunting rights, agricultural or silvicultural rights, or mineral rights or obtaining conservation easements or flowage easements.
(l) The project is a joint acquisition, either among public agencies, nonprofit organizations, or private entities, or by a public-private partnership.
(10) The Acquisition and Restoration Council shall give increased priority to those projects for which matching funds are available and to project elements previously identified on an acquisition list pursuant to this section that can be acquired at 80 percent or less of appraised value.
(11) For the purposes of funding projects pursuant to paragraph (3)(a), the Secretary of Environmental Protection shall ensure that each water management district receives the following percentage of funds annually:
(a) Thirty-five percent to the South Florida Water Management District, of which amount $25 million for 2 years beginning in fiscal year 2000-2001 shall be transferred by the Department of Environmental Protection into the Save Our Everglades Trust Fund and shall be used exclusively to implement the comprehensive plan under s. 373.470
(b) Twenty-five percent to the Southwest Florida Water Management District.
(c) Twenty-five percent to the St. John's River Water Management District.
(d) Seven and one-half percent to the Suwannee River Water Management District.
(e) Seven and one-half percent to the Northwest Florida Water Management District.
(12) It is the intent of the Legislature that in developing the list of projects for funding pursuant to paragraph (3)(a), that these funds not be used to abrogate the financial responsibility of those point and nonpoint sources that have contributed to the degradation of water or land areas. Therefore, an increased priority shall be given by the water management district governing boards to those projects that have secured a cost-sharing agreement allocating responsibility for the cleanup of point and nonpoint sources.
(13) An affirmative vote of five members of the Acquisition and Restoration Council shall be required in order to place a proposed project on the list developed pursuant to subsection (8). Any member of the council who by family or a business relationship has a connection with any project proposed to be ranked shall declare such interest prior to voting for a project's inclusion on the list.
(14) Each year that bonds are to be issued pursuant to this section, the Acquisition and Restoration Council shall review the most current approved project list and shall, by the first board meeting in May, present to the Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund for approval a listing of projects developed pursuant to subsection (8). The board of trustees may remove projects from the list developed pursuant to this subsection, but may not add projects or rearrange project rankings.
(15) The Acquisition and Restoration Council shall submit to the board of trustees, with its list of projects, a report that includes, but shall not be limited to, the following information for each project listed:
(a) The stated purpose for inclusion.
(b) Projected costs to achieve the project goals.
(c) An interim management budget.
(d) Specific performance measures.
(e) Plans for public access.
(f) An identification of the essential parcel or parcels within the project without which the project cannot be properly managed.
(g) Where applicable, an identification of those projects or parcels within projects which should be acquired in fee simple or in less than fee simple.
(h) An identification of those lands being purchased for conservation purposes.
(i) A management policy statement for the project and a management prospectus pursuant to s. 259.032(9)(d).
(j) An estimate of land value based on county tax assessed values.
(k) A map delineating project boundaries.
(l) An assessment of the project's ecological value, outdoor recreational value, forest resources, wildlife resources, ownership pattern, utilization, and location.
(m) A discussion of whether alternative uses are proposed for the property and what those uses are.
(n) A designation of the management agency or agencies.
(16) All proposals for projects pursuant to paragraph (3)(b) or subsection (20) shall be implemented only if adopted by the Acquisition and Restoration Council and approved by the board of trustees. The council shall consider and evaluate in writing the merits and demerits of each project that is proposed for Florida Forever funding and each proposed addition to the Conservation and Recreation Lands list program. The council shall ensure that each proposed project will meet a stated public purpose for the restoration, conservation, or preservation of environmentally sensitive lands and water areas or for providing outdoor recreational opportunities and that each proposed addition to the Conservation and Recreation Lands list will meet the public purposes under s. 259.032(3) and, when applicable, s. 259.101(4). The council also shall determine whether the project or addition conforms, where applicable, with the comprehensive plan developed pursuant to s. 259.04(1)(a), the comprehensive multipurpose outdoor recreation plan developed pursuant to s. 375.021, the state lands management plan adopted pursuant to s. 253.03(7), the water resources work plans developed pursuant to s. 373.199, and the provisions of this section.
(17)(a) The Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund, or, in the case of water management district lands, the owning water management district, may authorize the granting of a lease, easement, or license for the use of certain lands acquired pursuant to this section, for certain uses that are determined by the appropriate board to be compatible with the resource values of and management objectives for such lands.
(b) Any existing lease, easement, or license acquired for incidental public or private use on, under, or across any lands acquired pursuant to this section shall be presumed to be compatible with the purposes for which such lands were acquired.
(c) Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph (a), no such lease, easement, or license shall be entered into by the Department of Environmental Protection or other appropriate state agency if the granting of such lease, easement, or license would adversely affect the exclusion of the interest on any revenue bonds issued to fund the acquisition of the affected lands from gross income for federal income tax purposes, pursuant to Internal Revenue Service regulations.
(18) The Acquisition and Restoration Council shall recommend adoption of rules by the board of trustees necessary to implement the provisions of this section relating to: solicitation, scoring, selecting, and ranking of Florida Forever project proposals; disposing of or leasing lands or water areas selected for funding through the Florida Forever program; and the process of reviewing and recommending for approval or rejection the land management plans associated with publicly owned properties. Rules promulgated pursuant to this subsection shall be submitted to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, for review by the Legislature, no later than 30 days prior to the 2001 Regular Session and shall become effective only after legislative review. In its review, the Legislature may reject, modify, or take no action relative to such rules. The board of trustees shall conform such rules to changes made by the Legislature, or, if no action was taken by the Legislature, such rules shall become effective.
(19) Lands listed as projects for acquisition under the Florida Forever program may be managed for conservation pursuant to s. 259.032, on an interim basis by a private party in anticipation of a state purchase in accordance with a contractual arrangement between the acquiring agency and the private party that may include management service contracts, leases, cost-share arrangements, or resource conservation agreements. Lands designated as eligible under this subsection shall be managed to maintain or enhance the resources the state is seeking to protect by acquiring the land. Funding for these contractual arrangements may originate from the documentary stamp tax revenue deposited into the Conservation and Recreation Lands Trust Fund and Water Management Lands Trust Fund. No more than 5 percent of funds allocated under the trust funds shall be expended for this purpose.
(20) The Acquisition and Restoration Council, as successors to the Land Acquisition and Management Advisory Council, may amend existing Conservation and Recreation Lands projects and add to or delete from the 2000 Conservation and Recreation Lands list until funding for the Conservation and Recreation Lands program has been expended. The amendments to the 2000 Conservation and Recreation Lands list will be reported to the board of trustees in conjunction with the council's report developed pursuant to subsection (15).
History.--s. 21, ch. 99-247; s. 3, ch. 2000-129; s. 32, ch. 2000-152; s. 11, ch. 2000-170; s. 1, ch. 2001-275; s. 3, ch. 2002-261; s. 66, ch. 2003-399; s. 12, ch. 2005-3.