Today at Big Cat Rescue Apr 6 2013

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Audubon Florida Advocate
Legislative Session 2013
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Take Action: Protect Florida’s Public Lands

Public lands grab legislation up in House and Senate Committees next week.

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HB 33 and SB 466 are ill-considered bills by Rep. Jimmie Smith (R-Lecanto) and Senator Thad Altman (R-Melbourne) that allow for a bordering landowner to lay claim to state-owned lands. The bills set up preferential treatmentfor speculators to cherry-pick quality public lands and bypass environmental result in “net conservation value.” All without adequate opportunity for citizens to learn that their favorite park is up for grabs.

Here is how this might work: The owner of a 500-acre dairy next to a state forest wants to expand his herd. He agrees to forgo development rights on his land in exchange for getting permanent ownership of the state lands. He can cut the trees, eliminate native wildlife, install irrigation and eliminate public access, regardless of existing public use.

Another example:  A hunt club wants exclusive rights to part of a popular wildlife management area next door. The club agrees not to develop their hunting preserve in exchange for permanent and exclusive ownership and use of the public hunting area.

Next week these bills will be up for a vote in the House Agriculture & Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee and the Senate Environmental Preservation & Conservation Committee.

Click here to say no to these misguided attempts to circumvent existing state laws that protect the public interest and rights to public lands. Put your boots on the ground for our parks, forests, and wildlife refuges

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Environmental Cluster Bomb Gets Worse

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HB 999 by Rep. Jimmy Patronis (R-Panama City) has been described as an “environmental clusterbomb” ready to do lots of damage to lots of environmental policies. This is the way we are losing the laws and rules that protect Florida’s land, water and wildlife – one little destructive loophole after another.

The Senate companion, SB 1684 by Senator Thad Altman (R-Melbourne) was passed out of the Senate Environmental Preservation & Conservation Committeethis week with amendments that deleted a troubling definition of the mean annual flood line, which could be used as a bridge to allow riparian landowners to grab additional shorelines, a permitting exemptionfor Chapter 298 drainage districts, and an unnecessary section dealing with DEP’s field sample collection and analysis procedures.

Altman’s bill picked up a terrible amendment that advances the cause of “privately held water rights.” Offered by the usual green champion Senator Jack Latvala (R-Clearwater), the amendment underminesthe state’s ability to change water use permits during shortages and to reserve water for the environment. Permit holders who develop a “drought resistant” source such as reclaimed water will be perpetually entitled to hold onto existing water permits. That means no reallocation for spring recovery or for other uses.

Audubon and other conservation groups will argue to remove the bad parts of these bills. On Monday, April 8, HB 999 will be up for a vote in the House Agriculture & Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee, while SB 1684 will be up in the Senate Agriculture Committee.

Today at Big Cat Rescue Apr 6 2013

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