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Governor DeSantis Allocates $4.3M for Florida’s Natural Resources in 2021

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (FNN) – Many of the legislative committees are meeting in preparation for the upcoming legislative session on March 2, 2021.

The Agriculture and Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee met on February 10, 2021 to discuss the Governor’s Leads Budget as it pertains to agriculture and natural resources.

Kimberly Cramer, from the Governor’s Office of Policy and Budget, and also the Environmental and Policy Coordinator for Governor Ron DeSantis, and Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Noah Valenstein, gave presentations regarding the budget.

According to Cramer, the Environmental Unit consists of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the Department of Citrus, the Department of Environmental Protection, and the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Of the governor’s proposed Leads Budget totalling $96.6 million, $4.3 million or 4.5 percent goes to the environmental unit and is broken down as follows:

  • Department of Environmental Protection – 50%
  • Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services – 40%
  • Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission – 9%
  • Department of Citrus – 1%

According to Secretary Valenstein, climate change and sea-level rise are two critical issues that Florida faces and sea-level rise not only has physical impacts, but economic ones as well.

There are two programs funded by the governor’s budget that will help deal with these issues. They are the Resilient Florida Grant program and the Office of Resilience and Coastline Protection. The governor’s budget proposes $1 billion over four years for the grant program and $60 million for the Office of Resilience and Coastline Protection.

The Resilient Flordia Grant program would receive $10 million in cash to make sure that 100% of our coastal communities have a Peril of Flood, a Vulnerability Plan, or some combination of both in place. This way when businesses want to come to those communities, they can say we have analyzed any potential impacts and have a plan on how to deal with them.

The grant would also receive a bonded amount of $165 million in the first year which would allow the state to come in and address key state assets with grant money or increased cost on capital outlay to deal with sea-level rise so there is a strong partnership with the state not only on the planning side but in the implementation of projects.

The $60 million for the Office of Resilience and Coastal Protections includes $50 million for beach restoration and inlet management and $10 million for staff that works on coral and other resilience planning items.

The budget also proposes $2.5 billion for Everglades restoration and protection of water resources over four years. The $2.5 billion would include $1 billion from Resilient Florida over four years from increased DocStamps which will allow for more bonding and $625 million each year for water quality.

The budget breakdown for this $2.5 billion is as follows:

  • Everglades Restoration – $473 million
  • Targeted Water Quality – $145 million
  • Springs Restoration – $50 million
  • Alternative Water Supply Grant Program – $40 million
  • Water Quality Enhancement and Accountability – $10.8 million
  • Innovative Solutions to Algae – $10 million
  • FWC Center for Red Tide Research – $4.2 million

For a total proposed budget for Everglades and Water Resources of $733 million a year.

With regards to land protection, the budget includes money for the following:

  • Contaminated Site Cleanup – $67 million
  • Volkswagon Clean Air Act – $30 million
  • Florida Forever – $50 million
  • State Parks Management and Improvements – $32 million

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Lynn DeJarnette is a Florida National News reporter. | info@floridanationalnews.com

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