Florida lawmakers propose about $1 billion in land conservation for the next fiscal year By Jessica Meszaros, WUSF Public Media - WUSF 89.7

Posted on May 31, 2023

Florida Forever would receive $100 million, another $100 million is earmarked for the Rural and Family Lands Protection Program, and $800 million would fund projects connecting the Ocala and Osceola National Forests.

The Florida Legislature has proposed about $1 billion in land conservation funds for the fiscal year starting July 1, 2023.

Legislators directed about $100 million to Florida Forever, the state's land acquisition program.

Dean Saunders is a real estate broker in Lakeland with SVN Saunders Ralston Dantzler. He’s also a former state legislator representing Polk County from 1992 through 1996 who helped pioneer Florida Forever when it was known back then as Preservation 2000.

“Back when I had the idea to create conservation easements, even before I was in the legislature, I was looking around at a bunch of dead orange trees in Clermont, which is where I grew up," Saunders said. "And, I remember saying to my wife at the time, ‘this will all be houses one day … And so, I wonder if there's some way we could maybe pay them not to develop it.’ ”

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