Florida environmentalists fight to preserve federal conservation fund

Federal Land and Water Conservation fund slated to lapse on Sunday

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A federal program that has provided billions of dollars for land and water conservation for more than a half-century is set to expire on Sunday, but environmental groups in Florida are fighting for Congress to keep the program alive.

The Federal Land and Water Conservation fund was created in 1964. 

Funded by taxes on offshore oil drilling, it’s provided billions of dollars for the acquisition and maintenance of environmental lands.

“What better way to use those monies, than to actually protect some of our treasured national areas,” said Aliki Moncrief, executive director of Florida Conservation Voters.

But the program is set to expire this Sunday. Environmental groups said if that happens, Florida will lose a valuable funding source, which has provided more than $1 billion to the state.

“We would see a diminution of funding for a lot of places that people enjoy today,” said Manley Fuller, president of the Florida Wildlife Federation.

Florida's economy is tied to the environment in many ways.

“We have an almost $60 billion outdoor recreation industry. A lot of that is tied to protecting these special areas,” Moncrief said.