Tag Archives: 2014 constitutional amendment

Adding “Wildlife Corridors” to the Florida Constitution, Giving FWC Broader Authority to Protect Wildlife Habitat

Photo courtesy of Sightseeing Miami

“We must prioritize fish and wildlife habitat connectivity in future.” Manley Fuller, President, Florida Wildlife Federation, http://www.fwfonline.org

The Florida Wildlife Commission could have more authority to protect wildlife should Constitution Revision Commission proposal #48 be introduced on the 2018 ballot. This proposal, submitted by Cape Coral environmental legend, former service member, teacher and school principal, Mr Carl Veaux, would amend Section 9 of Article IV of the Florida constitution “to provide that the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission shall exercise the regulatory and executive powers of the state with respect to habitats, including wildlife corridors…”
Full text proposal # 48: http://www.flcrc.gov/Proposals/Commissioner/2017/0048/ProposalText/Filed/HTML

Before I continue, I would like to state that I have sponsored Mr Veaux’s public proposal, #801227, that is one of thousands of proposals, many addressing wildlife and conservation issues, that were submitted to the Constitution Revision Commission, (CRC) and brought to the attention of the commissioners during the public hearings.

Mr Veaux, though, stood out. He was very persistent in his communications with me. I came to learn through his multiple calls and emails something that I had not listened hard enough to hear. When he sensed my fatigue, Mr Veaux informed me, “…don’t you know, I speak for the animals.” I woke up.

I am also supporting this proposal because there is a need to define “wildlife corridors,” and work through the controversial details. We must step up and do this, as a CRC body, because protecting wildlife corridors in our constitution is the most logical and effective way to address and direct wildlife conservation for future generations.

~As the Florida Chamber reports, Florida is twenty million strong, and six million more people are coming by 2030. Florida’s time has arrived. Our land, waters, and natural habitats are “of the essence…” The next CRC will not come for another 20 years. We must now do something for wildlife and the environment. (http://www.flchamber.com/did-you-know-that-floridas-population-could-increase-to-nearly-26-million-by-2030/)

Visit Florida Wildlife Corridor: http://floridawildlifecorridor.org

So just in case you do not know, what is a “wildlife corridor” is anyway…To animals, lands that are not connected for travel, territory, food, shelter, raising young, and “socializing” are not as valuable as those lands that are CONNECTED.

You may have been exposed to this terminology through “The Florida Wildlife Corridor?” In my opinion, The Florida Wildlife Corridor is the most impressive conservation effort happening in Florida today. You can learn about its ambitious goal to connect lands throughout Florida by clicking on the link above.

Years ago, I heard through the grape vine that Attorney General Pam Bondi likes this program. Although I have never asked her about it, every time I walk by her office in Tallahassee I notice the most beautiful eagle painting hanging in her office. A clue!

For larger  image: http://www.oppaga.state.fl.us/government/storgchart.aspx

Now for the Florida Wildlife Commission also known as FWC: http://myfwc.com;

(http://myfwc.com/about/overview/programs/mission-benefits/)

The Florida Wildlife Commission is part of the executive branch; they are an executive agency. Their board members are appointed by the governor; however they are very independent. Their mission is to “managing fish and wildlife resources for their long-term well-being and the benefit of people.”

So how would this work to affect the the constitution?

According to Florida Audubon, (http://fl.audubon.org) the “Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission operates with Florida Constitutional authority to regulate direct impacts to fish and wildlife including protected species. For state Threatened species, they can require minimization or mitigation for impacts to the habitat of species that are designated as state Threatened, but there is no comprehensive way for them to engage on threats to the habitat of not-yet-listed species, or impacts to habitat that individually may not cause take to threatened species, but cumulatively will cause tremendous harm.”

The protection of wildlife cannot be accomplished without protecting their habitat; this amendment would give FWC the authority they need to achieve the work they’ve been tasked with. And that authority would extend to corridors needed by certain species.

So the proposed change would simply allow, but not require, the seven person appointed FWC to establish rules and permits limiting impacts to habitat in the same way they currently establish limits on impacts to individual animals.

Proposal #48 belongs in the constitution. There will be a things to work out, there always are but I think “we’re covered.”  When I asked Mr. Veaux, who is 79 years old, if he could come to Tallahassee to speak on the issue, he said not, “Tallahassee is a long way, but that should not be a problem the wild animals all over the state are spreading the word!”

http://www.cape-coral-daily-breeze.com/page/content.detail/id/611218/Cape-environmentalist-honored-by-Audubon.html?nav=5011

Proposal #48  is sponsored in honor of Mr Carl Veaux

Savannas State Preserve, St Lucie County, JTL
Wildflower, Savannas State Preserve, JTL
A wonderful photo of a Black Bear, public.
Wild turkeys are very important to Mr Veaux. He speaks of the Osceola Turkey and their importance to Florida’s economy as many tourist/hunters come to hunt or see the bird. Of course, land is necessary for the birds’ success. Photo public.
Wildflower Savannas State Preserve, Martin County, FL. JTL
The belle of the ball! A gorgeous snowy egret, a bird once close to eradication during the 1800/1900s bird-feathers/ladies-hat fashion-craze. The thoughtless destruction of birds and leaving the their young to die was the inspiration for Florida Audubon that was founded  in Maitland, Florida and remains one of the major influences in conservation today.
Silver Springs area, Ocala, Florida, JTL
Stillness of nature. Silver Springs area, JTL
Roseate spoonbills and many other water birds feeding! Photo courtesy of Everglades Trust website.
Eagle pair, Martin County, Florida, Dr Scott Kuhns.

FWC is part of Article IV, Executive, in Florida’s constitution : http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?submenu=3

Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch is a commissioner on the 2017/18 Constitution Revision Commissioner, *this proposal will go before the Executive Committee November 28th. You can support this proposal by writing the Executive Committee here: https://flcrc.gov/Committees/EX/

Jacqui can be reached here: https://www.flcrc.gov/Commissioners/Thurlow-Lippisch

Learn about the CRC here:http://www.flcrc.gov

Taking Back Paradise, The People’s Fight, Florida’s Water and Land Legacy, St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

Ex. Director, Mark Perry, Florida Oceanographic; Dr. Tabitha Cale, Audubon Florida; Ex. Director, Eric Eichenberg, Everglades Foundation; Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch, Comr. Sewall's Point; and Dr Paul Grey, Florida Audubon stand before the St Lucie River, Downtown Stuart, October, 2014.
Executive Director, Mark Perry, Florida Oceanographic; Dr. Tabitha Cale, Florida Audubon ; Executive Director, Eric Eichenberg, Everglades Foundation; Comr. Sewall’s Point, Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch; and Dr Paul Grey, Florida Audubon, stand before the St Lucie River, Downtown Stuart, October, 2014.

Last week, at a Rivers Coalition meeting, Eric Eichenberg of the Everglades Foundation and Dr Tabitha Cale of Audubon, gave an impassioned speech in support of Amendment 1. Such calls to action inspired Florida state voters to approve the constitutional amendment yesterday by almost 75%.

It was interesting to me that I did not know of one member of the state legislature who openly lauded support of Amendment 1, Florida’s Water and Land Conservation Initiative,  for 2014.

Why not? Because it designates monies. Those in power like to have freedom with the state’s monies, rather than having them marked in stone…

Oh well….

When I first saw the furor and motivation of those working for the amendment, it was almost poignant.

The intense drive was markedly different. It was something that only manifest itself through those who have lost something; of those who have had something they cherish taken away, something they love….

Florida, our paradise, our estuaries, our springs, our rivers, our lakes, our remaining wetlands, our upland forests, our fisheries, our wildlife, our Everglades, our “Fountain of Youth” are all slowly dying.  All of us who love it see this clearly, and in an organized backlash to take back what is most dear decided to do anything to save Florida from complete and total destruction,  as the state is quickly becoming, some say it already is, the third most populated state in the nation.

Many have tried, but our government has not protected Florida well enough and thus we, the people, have taken this responsibility into our own hands, we have peacefully risen up, to protect Florida through the power and structure of a state constitutional amendment.

Awesome.

Will it work? Only time will tell. As we all know, money often brings out the worst in people, even those with the very best intentions.

Personally, for me there was no other choice. The state has not done its job and we were/are headed for disaster unless something changes. There can be business and paradise, but with out paradise there will be no business…

Our water and most precious land resources, what brought us all to this state in the first place, needs something more.

How the amendment reads is powerful. When you have time, take a look and read the link as well. Please keep your eye on this and the fight over the money as it is truly Florida’s last and final chance. It will only work, and the St Lucie/Indian River Lagoon will only benefit if you stay involved.

SECTION 28. Land Acquisition Trust Fund. —

a) Effective on July 1 of the year following passage of this amendment by the voters, and for a period of 20 years after that effective date, the Land Acquisition Trust Fund shall receive no less than 33 percent of net revenues derived from the existing excise tax on documents, as defined in the statutes in effect on January 1, 2012, as amended from time to time, or any successor or replacement tax, after the Department of Revenue first deducts a service charge to pay the costs of the collection and enforcement of the excise tax on documents.
b) Funds in the Land Acquisition Trust Fund shall be expended only for the following purposes:
1) As provided by law, to finance or refinance: the acquisition and improvement of land, water areas, and related property interests, including conservation easements, and resources for conservation lands including wetlands, forests, and fish and wildlife habitat; wildlife management areas; lands that protect water resources and drinking water sources, including lands protecting the water quality and quantity of rivers, lakes, streams, springsheds, and lands providing recharge for groundwater and aquifer systems; lands in the Everglades Agricultural Area and the Everglades Protection Area, as defined in Article II, Section 7(b); beaches and shores; outdoor recreation lands, including recreational trails, parks, and urban open space; rural landscapes; working farms and ranches; historic or geologic sites; together with management, restoration of natural systems, and the enhancement of public access or recreational enjoyment of conservation lands.
2) To pay the debt service on bonds issued pursuant to Article VII, Section 11(e).
c) The moneys deposited into the Land Acquisition Trust Fund, as defined by the statutes in effect on January 1, 2012, shall not be or become commingled with the General Revenue Fund of the state.[4]

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AMD 1: (http://ballotpedia.org/Florida_Water_and_Land_Conservation_Initiative,_Amendment_1_%282014%29)