Act is the Culmination of a Decade of Effort Highlighting the Importance of Connected Wildlife Habitats
Today, the Florida legislature passed the Florida Wildlife Corridor Act, with bipartisan unanimous support. The purpose of the act, and of the Corridor itself, is “to create incentives for conservation and sustainable development while sustaining and conserving the green infrastructure that is the foundation of Florida’s economy and quality of life.”
The bill passed the State Senate 40-0 and the House with a vote of 115-0.
“I applaud the Florida Legislature’s leadership in passing the Florida Wildlife Corridor Act. The overwhelming bi-partisan support speaks to the shared commitment for conserving Florida’s land and water, and the Act itself provides a clear framework for achieving a lasting conservation legacy,” said Carlton Ward, Jr., National Geographic Explorer, photographer and a founder of the Path of the Panther initiative. “A broad coalition of Florida’s farmers, ranchers, environmental groups, and coastal communities came together to support the effort and have worked together for a decade to see this day.”
The Act includes numerous provisions:
- Securing access to habitats for wide ranging wildlife, including the endangered Florida panther, and preventing fragmentation of critical lands
- Protecting the headwaters of major watersheds (including the Everglades and St. Johns)
- Helping to sustain working farms, lands and forests, and
- Preserving lands and waters to protect coastal estuaries.
The Florida House and Senate agreed to allocate $300 million towards the Florida Forever land conservation program specifically for protection of the Florida Wildlife Corridor. This money is in addition to $100 million allocated generally to the Florida Forever conservation program in the state budget.
“These funds help create partnerships with private landowners to preserve critical habitats, timberlands, farms and ranches throughout the state,” continued Ward, Jr.
If signed by the Governor, the legislation and funding will take effect on July 1, 2021
ABOUT PATH OF THE PANTHER
Path of the Panther is supported by the National Geographic Society, inspiring the protection of the Florida Wildlife Corridor, a statewide network of public and private lands.