Securing the Protection of Florida’s Pristine Environment

People from across the world come to Florida because of the state’s natural beauty. From the rolling hills of North Florida, to the swaying sawgrass of the Everglades and pristine Florida Keys, Florida’s classic landscapes have come to define the Sunshine State around the world as a place of true natural treasure. Since taking office, Governor Scott has championed record funding and investments in the Everglades, Florida’s springs, beaches and state parks while supporting the state’s vital produce and agricultural industries.

To continue protecting Florida’s world-class beaches, award-winning and nationally acclaimed state parks, renowned springs and iconic Everglades, Governor Scott is recommending more than $3.8 billion, including historic and record funding, to preserve Florida’s environment and keep the state beautiful for generations to come.

Improving Water Quality & Ensuring a Sustainable Water Supply in Florida
Under Governor Scott’s leadership, Florida established the most comprehensive nutrient pollution standards in the nation and became the first state to adopt complete nutrient standards protecting all lakes, rivers, streams, springs and estuaries. This outstanding achievement has undoubtedly worked to protect water quality in Florida for generations of Floridians – but more must be done. Governor Scott expects Florida to have the best water quality programs in the nation and the Securing Florida’s Future budget makes critical investments of more than $460 million in water resource programs to safeguard the iconic waterways that are so important to the future of Florida.

Protecting Florida’s Estuaries, Lake Okeechobee and the Everglades
Governor Scott is focused on protecting and restoring the Florida Everglades and under his leadership more than $1.8 billion has been invested by the State of Florida in restoring the Everglades. This includes $32 million in recurring state funding as a part of the $880 million Everglades water quality plan. Under the Governor’s direction, the state has made historic progress with restoration projects that will provide billions of gallons of water storage and clean water for the Everglades and local communities.

However, Governor Scott knows that work to protect Florida’s environment must continue and that even more must be done to complete critical water resource projects. That is why the Securing Florida’s Future budget recommends a record $355 million for Everglades restoration related projects. More than $215 million of this investment will contribute to water storage projects, which will collectively provide nearly 300 billion gallons of water storage when complete and operational. This includes $105 million for the C-43 Reservoir, which alone will provide 55 billion gallons of water storage when complete. This also includes $4 million for targeted land acquisition necessary to move two key Everglades restoration projects forward.

This year, during the past Special Legislative Session, Governor Scott fought for and secured $50 million in state funding to speed up repairs to the Herbert Hoover Dike – becoming the first Florida governor to invest state dollars to expedite repairs to this federal project. To build on this investment, and with the commitment of President Trump to accelerate the completion of repairs, the Securing Florida’s Future budget recommends investing an additional $50 million of state funds to expedite this process. Completing this project is critical not just for the safety of South Florida residents, but also for the health of the greater Everglades system and Florida’s coastal estuaries. With this recommendation, the state’s total investment would grow to $100 million.

Record Funding for Florida’s Springs
The Governor has also fulfilled his promise to establish a dedicated funding source to protect the future of Florida’s springs. Florida contains more first-magnitude springs than anywhere else in the nation. In addition to being critical habitat for numerous species, these natural treasures bring families, visitors and jobs to Florida. Recognizing the value of this resource, the Securing Florida’s Future budget includes a record $55 million in state funding for springs restoration. Working with local partners, Governor Scott has already invested a historic $365 million in Florida’s springs over the last seven years.

Record Funding for Florida’s Beaches
Governor Scott recognizes the importance of protecting communities along Florida’s 1,300 miles of coastline and preserving the state’s world-class beaches and coral reefs. Florida’s beaches not only attract millions of visitors who support more than 1.4 million Florida jobs, they also are home to abundant wildlife and have helped create the picturesque “Sunshine State” Florida is known as around the world. In addition to the historic investments this budget makes in water quality and protection of Florida’s natural lands, the Securing Florida’s Future budget invests a record $100 million in beach restoration. This includes $50 million for statewide beach and dune restoration, beach re-nourishment and other coastal restoration projects, and $50 million toward the state’s share of beach restoration needed due to damages from Hurricane Irma. Governor Scott’s recommendation is the highest ever level of funding for beach restoration. Additionally, the Securing Florida’s Future budget invests $3.6 million in the Department of Environmental Protection’s new Florida Resilient Coastline Initiative, which will assist local governments with sea level rise planning and coastal resilience projects, in addition to protection of coral reef health.

Record Funding for Florida’s Parks
Under the Governor’s leadership in 2013, Florida’s State Park System won its third National Gold Medal for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management, the first of any state to do so. In fact, no other state has even won two. This year, Governor Scott is recommending a record $161 million for our State Park System to help Florida win an unprecedented fourth Gold Medal. The Governor is committed to continuing improvements and investments in Florida’s parks, greenways, wildlife management areas, beaches and other natural lands to ensure current and future generations can enjoy these beautiful areas.

The Securing Florida’s Future budget record investment in Florida’s State Park System includes a record $50 million in State Park Facility Improvements, focused on enhancing visitor experiences in our state parks, $4 million to improve ADA accessibility and $750,000 to partner with our friends of parks organizations to further the success of our award-winning state parks.

Keeping Florida’s Parks Safe
The Securing Florida’s Future budget provides more than $5.5 million for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to hire 25 new law enforcement officers for Florida’s award-winning state parks.

Investing in Florida’s Water Infrastructure
The Securing Florida’s Future budget recommends $50 million in a new Water Infrastructure Investment Program to improve water quality and ensure a sustainable water supply for Florida. These funds will provide grants for alternative water supply projects, to offset homeowner costs for septic to sewer conversions, and for stormwater management projects that will be awarded each year based on the areas of greatest need and projects with the greatest benefit. Key areas for Fiscal Year 2018-19 are expected to include the Indian River Lagoon, Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie Estuaries, Keystone Heights area, and the Central Florida Water Initiative and North Florida Regional Water Supply Partnership.

Protecting Florida’s Natural Lands
Governor Scott understands that maintaining Florida’s natural beauty means preserving natural lands for families and visitors to enjoy for years to come. The Securing Florida’s Future budget includes more than $172 million for land acquisition and management statewide. This includes $50 million for Florida Forever for the acquisition of rare and sensitive lands to ensure these resources are protected now and in the future. The remaining funds proposed for land management, combined with record investment in our state parks, will continue the stewardship of state-owned lands now and in the future with the additional investment in Florida Forever.

Keeping Florida’s Families Safe from Wildfires
Earlier this year, Florida experienced dangerous wildfires, but our brave firefighters, first responders and law enforcement worked together to help protect Floridians. To recognize the hard work and selfless commitment of Florida’s state firefighters, Governor Scott is recommending $2.4 million for a 10 percent raise for all Florida Forest Service firefighters.

Governor Scott also understands the importance of protecting Florida families and business from the threat of wildfires through community programs. The Securing Florida’s Future budget invests $500,000 in a new community wildfire mitigation program. This program will be specifically focused on those counties that were threatened by wildfires earlier this year and will work to clear brush and other wildfire hazards that could endanger the safety of communities and fuel wildfires.

Securing the Future of Agriculture in Florida
Florida ranks highest in the nation in value of production for watermelons, sugarcane, grapefruit and oranges. Florida accounts for 57 percent of total U.S. citrus production and Florida agriculture supports two million jobs and contributes more than $120 billion annually to the state’s economy. Florida has 47,300 commercial farms, occupying a total of 9.45 million acres. In order to ensure Florida’s citrus and other agriculture industries continues to lead the nation, the Securing Florida’s Future budget dedicates $1.7 billion for agriculture.

Securing a Strong Future for Florida’s Iconic Citrus Industry
Governor Scott is 100 percent committed to helping citrus growers recover from the devastating impacts of Hurricane Irma. After Irma, Governor Scott went to Washington, D.C. to personally advocate on behalf of Florida’s citrus growers. Even before urging Congress to pass a disaster relief package in the full amount of $2.5 billion for Florida agriculture, including more than $760 million for the citrus industry, Governor Scott activated a $25 million Florida Citrus Emergency Loan Program. This program provides short-term loans to citrus growers that experienced damages during the storm to “bridge the gap” between the time Hurricane Irma hit and when growers receive payments on insurance claims and/or federal disaster assistance. Still, Governor Scott believes more can be done. That’s why the Securing Florida’s Future budget proposes a more than $21 million investment in Florida’s citrus industry which includes: $10 million – an increase of $2 million over current year funding – for citrus research to find solutions to citrus greening, including supporting any federal programs that may become available in light of the devastation caused by Hurricane Irma. $4 million to support Department of Citrus consumer awareness efforts to support the market for Florida citrus and orange juice. $7 million for the Citrus Health Response Program, which helps ensure that growers are able to replant healthy citrus trees that were destroyed by Hurricane Irma, and helps minimize the spread of citrus greening.