Florida Senate - 2020                                    SB 7024
       By the Committee on Environment and Natural Resources
       592-02238-20                                          20207024__
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act relating to Florida Forever; amending s.
    3         259.105, F.S.; revising legislative findings under the
    4         Florida Forever Act to include wildlife crossings as a
    5         land acquisition purpose; requiring the Department of
    6         Environmental Protection to consult with specified
    7         entities for certain projects related to conservation
    8         lands and coastal areas subject to flooding; requiring
    9         that certain allocations from the Florida Forever
   10         Trust Fund include a specified amount for lands in
   11         this state which have been impacted by a hurricane
   12         during a specified timeframe and meet certain
   13         requirements; revising legislative intent regarding
   14         the use of certain funds; requiring the Acquisition
   15         and Restoration Council to give increased priority to
   16         certain projects that maximize the benefits associated
   17         with the acquisition of certain conservation lands or
   18         coastal areas; providing an effective date.
   20  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   22         Section 1. Paragraph (a) of subsection (2), paragraph (b)
   23  of subsection (3), and paragraph (b) of subsection (4) of
   24  section 259.105, Florida Statutes, are amended, and paragraph
   25  (i) is added to subsection (2) and paragraph (g) is added to
   26  subsection (10) of that section, to read:
   27         259.105 The Florida Forever Act.—
   28         (2)(a) The Legislature finds and declares that:
   29         1. Land acquisition programs have provided tremendous
   30  financial resources for purchasing environmentally significant
   31  lands to protect those lands from imminent development or
   32  alteration, thereby ensuring present and future generations’
   33  access to important waterways, open spaces, and recreation and
   34  conservation lands.
   35         2. The continued alteration and development of the state’s
   36  natural and rural areas to accommodate the state’s growing
   37  population have contributed to the degradation of water
   38  resources, the fragmentation and destruction of wildlife
   39  habitats, the loss of outdoor recreation space, and the
   40  diminishment of wetlands, forests, working landscapes, and
   41  coastal open space.
   42         3. The potential development of the state’s remaining
   43  natural areas and escalation of land values require government
   44  efforts to restore, bring under public protection, or acquire
   45  lands and water areas to preserve the state’s essential
   46  ecological functions and invaluable quality of life.
   47         4. It is essential to protect the state’s ecosystems by
   48  promoting a more efficient use of land, to ensure opportunities
   49  for viable agricultural activities on working lands, and to
   50  promote vital rural and urban communities that support and
   51  produce development patterns consistent with natural resource
   52  protection.
   53         5. The state’s groundwater, surface waters, and springs are
   54  under tremendous pressure due to population growth and economic
   55  expansion and require special protection and restoration
   56  efforts, including the protection of uplands and springsheds
   57  that provide vital recharge to aquifer systems and are critical
   58  to the protection of water quality and water quantity of the
   59  aquifers and springs. To ensure that sufficient quantities of
   60  water are available to meet the current and future needs of the
   61  natural systems and citizens of the state, and assist in
   62  achieving the planning goals of the department and the water
   63  management districts, water resource development projects on
   64  public lands, if compatible with the resource values of and
   65  management objectives for the lands, are appropriate.
   66         6. The needs of urban, suburban, and small communities in
   67  the state for high-quality outdoor recreational opportunities,
   68  greenways, trails, and open space have not been fully met by
   69  previous acquisition programs. Through such programs as the
   70  Florida Communities Trust and the Florida Recreation Development
   71  Assistance Program, the state shall place additional emphasis on
   72  acquiring, protecting, preserving, and restoring open space,
   73  ecological greenways, and recreation properties within urban,
   74  suburban, and rural areas where pristine natural communities or
   75  water bodies no longer exist because of the proximity of
   76  developed property.
   77         7. Many of the state’s unique ecosystems, such as the
   78  Florida Everglades, are facing ecological collapse due to the
   79  state’s burgeoning population growth and other economic
   80  activities. To preserve these valuable ecosystems for future
   81  generations, essential parcels of land must be acquired to
   82  facilitate ecosystem restoration.
   83         8. Access to public lands to support a broad range of
   84  outdoor recreational opportunities and the development of
   85  necessary infrastructure, if compatible with the resource values
   86  of and management objectives for such lands, promotes an
   87  appreciation for the state’s natural assets and improves the
   88  quality of life.
   89         9. Acquisition of lands, in fee simple, less than fee
   90  interest, or other techniques shall be based on a comprehensive
   91  science-based assessment of the state’s natural resources which
   92  targets essential conservation lands by prioritizing all current
   93  and future acquisitions based on a uniform set of data and
   94  planned so as to protect the integrity and function of
   95  ecological systems and working landscapes, and provide multiple
   96  benefits, including preservation of fish and wildlife habitat,
   97  connection of wildlife habitat with a wildlife crossing,
   98  recreation space for urban and rural areas, and the restoration
   99  of natural water storage, flow, and recharge.
  100         10. The state has embraced performance-based program
  101  budgeting as a tool to evaluate the achievements of publicly
  102  funded agencies, build in accountability, and reward those
  103  agencies which are able to consistently achieve quantifiable
  104  goals. While previous and existing state environmental programs
  105  have achieved varying degrees of success, few of these programs
  106  can be evaluated as to the extent of their achievements,
  107  primarily because performance measures, standards, outcomes, and
  108  goals were not established at the outset. Therefore, the Florida
  109  Forever program shall be developed and implemented in the
  110  context of measurable state goals and objectives.
  111         11. The state must play a major role in the recovery and
  112  management of its imperiled species through the acquisition,
  113  restoration, enhancement, and management of ecosystems that can
  114  support the major life functions of such species. It is the
  115  intent of the Legislature to support local, state, and federal
  116  programs that result in net benefit to imperiled species habitat
  117  by providing public and private land owners meaningful
  118  incentives for acquiring, restoring, managing, and repopulating
  119  habitats for imperiled species. It is the further intent of the
  120  Legislature that public lands, both existing and to be acquired,
  121  identified by the lead land managing agency, in consultation
  122  with the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission for animals
  123  or the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services for
  124  plants, as habitat or potentially restorable habitat for
  125  imperiled species, be restored, enhanced, managed, and
  126  repopulated as habitat for such species to advance the goals and
  127  objectives of imperiled species management for conservation,
  128  recreation, or both, consistent with the land management plan
  129  without restricting other uses identified in the management
  130  plan. It is also the intent of the Legislature that of the
  131  proceeds distributed pursuant to subsection (3), additional
  132  consideration be given to acquisitions that achieve a
  133  combination of conservation goals, including the restoration,
  134  enhancement, management, or repopulation of habitat for
  135  imperiled species. The council, in addition to the criteria in
  136  subsection (9), shall give weight to projects that include
  137  acquisition, restoration, management, or repopulation of habitat
  138  for imperiled species. The term “imperiled species” as used in
  139  this chapter and chapter 253, means plants and animals that are
  140  federally listed under the Endangered Species Act, or state
  141  listed by the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission or the
  142  Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. As part of the
  143  state’s role, all state lands that have imperiled species
  144  habitat shall include as a consideration in management plan
  145  development the restoration, enhancement, management, and
  146  repopulation of such habitats. In addition, the lead land
  147  managing agency of such state lands may use fees received from
  148  public or private entities for projects to offset adverse
  149  impacts to imperiled species or their habitat in order to
  150  restore, enhance, manage, repopulate, or acquire land and to
  151  implement land management plans developed under s. 253.034 or a
  152  land management prospectus developed and implemented under this
  153  chapter. Such fees shall be deposited into a foundation or fund
  154  created by each land management agency under s. 379.223, s.
  155  589.012, or s. 259.032(9)(c), to be used solely to restore,
  156  manage, enhance, repopulate, or acquire imperiled species
  157  habitat.
  158         12. There is a need to change the focus and direction of
  159  the state’s major land acquisition programs and to extend
  160  funding and bonding capabilities, so that future generations may
  161  enjoy the natural resources of this state.
  162         (i) The department shall consult with the Division of
  163  Emergency Management, the Department of Agriculture and Consumer
  164  Services, the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the
  165  Department of Transportation, the Department of Economic
  166  Opportunity, and the relevant water management districts on
  167  projects related to conservation lands and coastal areas subject
  168  to flooding as a result of sea-level rise. The goal of this
  169  consultation is to maximize the benefits of such projects by
  170  coordinating, wherever possible, acquisitions that complement
  171  the planned projects of these agencies.
  172         (3) Less the costs of issuing and the costs of funding
  173  reserve accounts and other costs associated with bonds, the
  174  proceeds of cash payments or bonds issued pursuant to this
  175  section shall be deposited into the Florida Forever Trust Fund
  176  created by s. 259.1051. The proceeds shall be distributed by the
  177  Department of Environmental Protection in the following manner:
  178         (b) Thirty-five percent to the Department of Environmental
  179  Protection for the acquisition of lands and capital project
  180  expenditures described in this section. Of the proceeds
  181  distributed pursuant to this paragraph, it is the intent of the
  182  Legislature that an increased priority be given to those
  183  acquisitions that which achieve a combination of conservation
  184  goals, including protecting Florida’s water resources and
  185  natural groundwater recharge.
  186         1. At a minimum, 3 percent, and no more than 10 percent, of
  187  the funds allocated pursuant to this paragraph shall be spent on
  188  capital project expenditures identified during the time of
  189  acquisition which meet land management planning activities
  190  necessary for public access.
  191         2. Beginning in the 2017-2018 fiscal year and continuing
  192  through the 2026-2027 fiscal year, at least $5 million of the
  193  funds allocated pursuant to this paragraph shall be spent on
  194  land acquisition within the Florida Keys Area of Critical State
  195  Concern as authorized pursuant to s. 259.045.
  196         3.Beginning in the 2020-2021 fiscal year, and in each
  197  fiscal year thereafter, at least $10 million of the funds
  198  allocated pursuant to this paragraph shall be spent on the
  199  acquisition of lands or conservation easements in this state in
  200  areas that were impacted by a hurricane within the 5 years
  201  before the fiscal year for which funds for the acquisition are
  202  appropriated and that are either conservation lands as defined
  203  in s. 253.034(2)(c) or coastal areas subject to flooding as a
  204  result of sea-level rise. For the purposes of this subsection, a
  205  hurricane-impacted area is the area specifically identified by
  206  the Governor pursuant to an executive order.
  207         (4) It is the intent of the Legislature that projects or
  208  acquisitions funded pursuant to paragraphs (3)(a) and (b)
  209  contribute to the achievement of the following goals, which
  210  shall be evaluated in accordance with specific criteria and
  211  numeric performance measures developed pursuant to s.
  212  259.035(4):
  213         (b) Increase the protection of this state’s Florida’s
  214  biodiversity at the species, natural community, and landscape
  215  levels, as measured by:
  216         1. The number of acres acquired of significant strategic
  217  habitat conservation areas;
  218         2. The number of acres acquired of highest priority
  219  conservation areas for Florida’s rarest species;
  220         3. The number of acres acquired of significant landscapes,
  221  landscape linkages, wildlife crossings, and conservation
  222  corridors, giving priority to completing linkages;
  223         4. The number of acres acquired of underrepresented native
  224  ecosystems;
  225         5. The number of landscape-sized protection areas of at
  226  least 50,000 acres that exhibit a mosaic of predominantly intact
  227  or restorable natural communities established through new
  228  acquisition projects or augmentations to previous projects; or
  229         6. The percentage increase in the number of occurrences of
  230  imperiled species on publicly managed conservation areas.
  232  Florida Forever projects and acquisitions funded pursuant to
  233  paragraph (3)(c) shall be measured by goals developed by rule by
  234  the Florida Communities Trust Governing Board created in s.
  235  380.504.
  236         (10) The council shall give increased priority to:
  237         (g) Projects that maximize the benefits associated with the
  238  acquisition of conservation lands or coastal areas subject to
  239  flooding as a result of sea-level rise through coordinated
  240  planning efforts with the Division of Emergency Management, the
  241  Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the Fish and
  242  Wildlife Conservation Commission, the Department of
  243  Transportation, the Department of Economic Opportunity, or the
  244  water management districts.
  245         Section 2. This act shall take effect July 1, 2020.