Florida Senate - 2024                            (NP)    SR 1818
       By Senator Brodeur
       10-00683A-24                                          20241818__
    1                          Senate Resolution                        
    2         A resolution reaffirming the importance of the Florida
    3         Wildlife Corridor and its significant environmental,
    4         cultural, economic, and tourism value as a unique
    5         natural resource, and recognizing February 12, 2024,
    6         as “Florida Wildlife Corridor Day.”
    8         WHEREAS, the Florida Wildlife Corridor, recognized in the
    9  Florida Wildlife Corridor Act of 2021, establishes a geographic
   10  area of more than 18 million acres of land, 10 million acres of
   11  which are current public conservation lands that could be
   12  permanently disconnected from each other without additional
   13  conservation of the nearly 8 million acres of opportunity areas
   14  connecting them, and
   15         WHEREAS, the purpose of defining the Florida Wildlife
   16  Corridor is to create incentives for conservation and
   17  sustainable development while preserving the green
   18  infrastructure that is the foundation of this state’s economy
   19  and quality of life, and
   20         WHEREAS, the nearly 8 million acres of opportunity areas
   21  still needing protection consist largely of working ranches,
   22  farms, and forests, and the majority of this acreage can be
   23  protected through conservation easements with willing
   24  landowners, thereby supporting the state’s agricultural economy
   25  and enhancing the tourism value of Florida’s heartland, and
   26         WHEREAS, since July 2021, more than 160,000 acres of land
   27  in the Florida Wildlife Corridor have been approved for
   28  protection by Governor Ron DeSantis and the Florida Cabinet,
   29  including Commissioner of Agriculture Wilton Simpson, who made
   30  the corridor a priority during his term as Senate President,
   31  with funding appropriated by the Legislature from the Department
   32  of Environmental Protection’s Florida Forever Program and the
   33  Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’s Rural and
   34  Family Lands Protection Program, and
   35         WHEREAS, a number of federal and local programs have
   36  increased their investment in Florida conservation, following
   37  the leadership of the state in prioritizing the framework of the
   38  Florida Wildlife Corridor, and
   39         WHEREAS, these programs share the state’s goal of
   40  protecting an additional 800,000 acres in the Florida Wildlife
   41  Corridor by 2030, balancing this commitment to conservation with
   42  the need for development to accommodate the more than 2 million
   43  new residents projected to move to this state during the next 6
   44  years, and
   45         WHEREAS, public access to the Florida Wildlife Corridor was
   46  greatly expanded in 2023 with the Legislature passing, and
   47  Governor DeSantis signing, legislation that connects the
   48  corridor to the Florida Greenways and Trails System and the
   49  Florida Shared-Use Nonmotorized (SUN) Trail Network, as well as
   50  additional pathways to heritage small towns throughout this
   51  state, and
   52         WHEREAS, with the state’s funding commitment in recent
   53  years to such projects, the Department of Environmental
   54  Protection and the Department of Transportation have coordinated
   55  the establishment of multiuse trails, including the investment
   56  in the planning, design, and construction of the SUN Trail
   57  Network and the campaign to recognize various communities as
   58  “Trail Towns,” in conjunction with Visit Florida’s promotion of
   59  trail-based tourism, and
   60         WHEREAS, this connecting of trails with the Florida
   61  Wildlife Corridor creates a means not only to preserve many
   62  natural areas, but also to provide expanded access for
   63  Floridians and visitors to hike, run, and bike between trail
   64  destinations and see firsthand this state’s unique natural
   65  habitat and picturesque small towns, NOW, THEREFORE,
   67  Be It Resolved by the Senate of the State of Florida:
   69         That the Senate reaffirms the importance of the Florida
   70  Wildlife Corridor and its significant environmental, cultural,
   71  economic, and tourism value as a unique natural resource, and
   72  recognizes February 12, 2024, as “Florida Wildlife Corridor
   73  Day.”