By Alex WroblewskiFlorida is struggling to protect the state’s vast lakes and river systems, which are at risk from rising sea levels, drought and other factors.
But now a $4 billion plan could offer a way to help with that task.
The plan announced Monday by the state Department of Environmental Protection, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is called the “Florida Lakes and Rivers Conservation Fund.”
It will be part of a $2.1 billion state budget proposal that Gov.
Rick Scott announced in June.
It’s part of the larger effort to create a “new, sustainable, economic Florida” that could generate more than $20 billion in new tax revenue over the next decade, according to the proposal.
Scott said the state will spend the money to create “a clean, resilient, resilient ecosystem” that protects water and habitat.
That includes “fishing, tourism, recreation, agriculture and other businesses,” he said.
The program is designed to address a growing problem: how to preserve, protect and improve our lakes and waterways as they are becoming more fragile.
They are becoming increasingly endangered as rising sea level, drought, storms and other events continue to impact the state.
A study released in November by the Center for Coastal and Regional Studies and the U.S. Geological Survey found that Lake Okeechobee in Lakeland, Fla., could be underwater by 2060.
That’s because of rising sea-level, water shortages and erosion of coastal properties.
Scott said the $4,000 fee would be added to the state sales tax and would be used to help “save and restore” some of Florida’s most important lakes and waterfalls, which account for more than half of the state total.
It would also fund “streamside preservation” efforts that would help protect the wetlands that make up much of the Florida ecosystem, including the St. Johns River and the Boca Grande River.
The $4 million, which comes from a pool of federal funds, will go toward projects that are expected to last at least five years.
Scott has pledged to spend at least $1 billion on conservation, according the proposal, but the federal government will take over the program if it doesn’t meet funding goals.
The money will come from the state budget and could be earmarked for projects that focus on protecting endangered species and improving the quality of life for local residents, the proposal states.
In addition to the lake conservation program, the plan calls for $600 million in grants for restoration of wetlands and wetlands ecosystems.
The funds will go to projects such as restoration of shoreline buffers, restoration of endangered species habitat and restoration of flood control infrastructure, according a copy of the plan obtained by The Associated Press.
It’s not clear how much the funds would be spent on the projects, but Scott has said in the past that he wants the state to spend the most money on the state parks.
He also said in June that the state would invest more in the state water system.
The plan states that state parks will be “invested in, maintained and maintained to be an asset for future generations.”
“As a state, we have a responsibility to our citizens to protect and preserve our natural beauty, but also to keep our water clean, reliable and accessible for future families,” Scott said in his announcement of the fund.
The proposal also calls for the creation of the “National Oceanic Atmospheric and Environmental Administration Coastal Protection Fund.”
This is a separate, separate fund that is funded by a separate federal government program and that will be used for “climate change mitigation and adaptation projects.”
The plan says that this fund “will enhance coastal planning and development across the state, as well as provide additional funding for coastal and river restoration.”
Scott’s proposal also said the money would be invested in “climate-resilient, resilient landscapes and natural resources, which support Florida’s diverse economy, the economic health of the tourism industry, and economic development in the region.”
The funding will be dedicated to projects “designed to protect, restore, preserve and enhance natural, cultural, recreational, educational, cultural and economic assets.”
Scott has previously called for an increase in federal funding for Florida’s coastal regions.
Scott’s proposal calls for an additional $4-million in state spending over the life of the program.
Scott has said that he plans to use the money for “sustainable, low-carbon development” that would create jobs in Florida, attract international visitors and boost the state economy.
It also would “enhance our tourism economy,” according to a copy that the AP obtained.
Scott’s plan would not require the state and county governments to increase property tax revenue.
He said in a statement Monday that “the proposed funding is a smart investment that will help strengthen our state and our economy in ways that benefit all Florida residents.”