Developers Ruining our Environment

There are nearly 300 springs across Florida and each presents huge ecological and economic value to the state.

Florida's Economy is at Risk

Florida springs, in 2019, brought in nearly 4 million visitors to the state, contributing immensely to local economies around them

Protected Lands

We Can:

  • Keep Florida Springs Safe

  • Conserve Mistreated Land

  • Protect Florida's Economy and Recreation

Florida’s protected lands are home to many endangered species, important natural resources, and opportunities for recreation and connection with nature.[1] Unfortunately, developers have become increasingly interested in acquiring protected lands for more liveable areas, but ignore the environmental repercussions that come with new development. 

 

The Florida 2070 project found that a moderate, generous expectation of Florida’s population will be around 15 million more people in 2070 than the population of 2010 - around 33.7 million total residents.[2] This will come with the need for more housing, which developers are eager to provide. However, unprotected land in Florida is now incredibly low and land developers will infringe upon already protected land to ensure our state will be able to house all of these families. This land is likely to include many protected wetlands that contain vital (nutritional and recreational) resources for humans and key species. 

 

Florida Springs

The main concern of developers infringing on Florida’s lands has to do with the natural springs the state contains. There are nearly 300 springs across Florida and each presents huge ecological and economic value to the state.[3] (Florida springs, in 2019, brought in nearly 4 million visitors to the state, contributing immensely to local economies around them). [4]

 

These springs are directly impacted by human development and building, ingesting the harmful toxins produced by these practices. In 2016, the Florida Legislature identified 30 springs across Florida in dire need of restoration and conservation.[5] Influxes of human-utilized byproducts (from wastewater dumping, developing surrounding areas, etc.), such as nitrogen and phosphorus, seep into springs causing intense problems with algal blooms, killing wildlife in the water and on land. Human activity inversely affects natural lands and we must deter developers from infringing upon vital aspects of our state’s ecology and economy.

 

Springs, wetlands, and other vital lands need more protection and conservation in the modern-day state of Florida. The Commissioner of Agriculture has explicit, important powers to defend protected lands and is able to utilize multiple tactics to ensure these lands are not only protected but continuously enhanced.

[1]https://1000fof.org/priorities/land/

[2] https://1000friendsofflorida.org/florida2070/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/florida2070summaryfinal.pdf

[3] https://floridajobs.org/community-planning-and-development/programs/community-planning-table-of-contents/springs-protection

[4] https://www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/85/2020/09/FRE_SpringsFactsheet.Print_.pdf

[5] https://floridadep.gov/springs/protect-restore/content/protecting-floridas-springs

Education

So, What Can We Do?!

By chapter 570, section 71, clause 1 of the Florida statutes, the Commissioner of Agriculture has the power to “conserve and enhance bodies of water, wildlife habitats, and threatened agricultural lands.” This section allows the Commissioner to defend protected lands throughout Florida and support projects to enhance these lands that are already being affected by human activity. This power will be used to stop the predatory practices of developers looking to get rich at the expense of Florida’s wetlands.

 

By chapter 570, section 71, clause 2 of the Florida statutes, the Commissioner of Agriculture has the power to go after owners of protected land if they “construct anything unnecessary to agriculture” - including buildings, advertisement billboards, and all things of that nature, if they are “dumping any waste or trash,” and if they are partaking in “activities that affect natural hydrology or ecology of the land.” This section allows the Commissioner to go after owners of protected lands if they are mistreating or misusing the land they are contractually obliged to conserve and protect. This power will be used to ensure protected lands are actually being protected and to further protect Florida’s springs, wetlands, and protected lands from predatory land owners.

 

By chapter 570, section 71, clause 5 of the Florida statutes, the Commissioner of Agriculture has the power to set regulations of activities a protected land owner can do, via a 30-year contract.

 

Past Commissioners of Agriculture have inadequately addressed this problem, often leaving it up to other agencies to regulate development across the state. We need a Commissioner that will ensure protected lands are genuinely protected, increase the conservation and enhancement efforts going on within them, and be an advocate against predatory developers.

 

Opposition groups mention that developers must acquire these protected lands in order to satisfy housing needs. However, these lands cannot just be demolished and built upon, as the benefits they provide to Florida’s population outweigh the temporary satisfaction of a housing community or two. These lands are critical to Florida’s sustainable future and deserve a Commissioner that will strongly stand up for them. The department will work closely with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Florida 2070, 1000 Friends of Florida, and other environmental protection groups to ensure standards are enhanced and enforced ethically and equitably.