The Founder’s Pen

~by Susi Pittman


On November 4, Florida voters will be asked to approve The Florida Water and Land Conservation Initiative, also known as Amendment 1. This is a subject near and dear to my heart, one that hits at the foundation of the preservation of the beautiful natural resources of my state.

My family arrived in Florida back in 1868 and started one of the first citrus groves in Polk County, Florida. So many of the creatures and waterways that existed back then have suffered in one way or another. Many species of native wildlife have become extinct and our aquatic waterways and acquifers are being infiltrated by pollutants The Floridan acquifer is one of the world’s MOST productive! The disregard for our Florida surroundings is slowly but surely affecting our quality of life, both in the wild and in our drinking water.

The Florida Water and Land Conservation Initiative, Amendment 1 is on the November 4, 2014 in the state of Florida as an initiated constitutional amendment. The measure, upon voter approval, would dedicate 33 percent of net revenue from the existing excise tax on documents to the Land Acquisition Trust Fund.

The Land Acquisition Fund would be expended to acquire and improve conservation easements, wildlife management areas, wetlands, forests, fish and wildlife habitats, beaches and shores, recreational trails and parks, urban open space, rural landscapes, working farms and ranches, historical and geological sites, lands protecting water and drinking water resources and lands in the Everglades Agricultural Areas and the Everglades Protection Area. The fund is designed to manage and restore natural systems and to enhance public access and recreational use of conservation lands.

The campaign in support of the initiative is being led by Florida’s Water and Land Legacy.

For a referred amendment to win in Florida, it must win a supermajority vote of 60 percent of those voting on the question.

Opponents state that 27% of Florida lands are already in conservation. They state that any further moves to conserve would be harmful and harmful to revenue intake. But, isn’t that what it always comes down to…the almighty dollar. In this case, the “easy” almighty dollar…business as usual, blinders-on to any road that might lead to quality of life and jobs. When in essence, conservation helps build new revenues in tourism and opens new financial opportunities for eco-friendly business and employment.

Amendment 1 will help protect wildlife, such as the critically endangered Florida panther and the fragile populations of the state’s unique subspecies of black bear. It will require a third of taxes collected on real estate transactions to be set aside to protect natural resources, including wildlife habitat.

Florida’s wildlife is constantly put at risk, and wildlife habitat is often destroyed by development and the construction of roads.

Amendment 1 gives Florida voters the opportunity to protect their rivers, springs, beaches and wildlife without any increase in taxes. By providing funding to restore conservation lands with dedicated funding for water and land conservation, management and restoration, the Everglades can be restored, springs saved and future generations can enjoy Florida’s natural areas.

Join the CAMPAIGN!

Susi Pittman is founder of and Owner-President of Twin Oaks Publishing; she is author of Animals in Heaven? Catholics Want to Know!; an advocate for the Florida Catholic Conference; a member of the St. Joseph’s Catholic Council of Women in Jacksonville, Florida; an Associate of the Sisters of St. Joseph, St. Augustine;a member of the Florida Publishers Association, Independent Book Publishers Association, the National Association of Professional Women, the ASPCA, the Humane Society of the United States and the National Audubon society.



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