State bill requests $125 million to help springs, St. Johns River
A bill to increase money for the preservation of North Florida springs and the St. Johns River has been filed by state Sen. Rob Bradley, who is trying to build on funding that is in the current budget.
Senate Bill 204 requests that $75 million from the state’s Land Acquisition Trust Fund be spent annually for the restoration of springs. It also requests that $50 million be given annually to the St. Johns River Water Management District for restoration of the river and its tributaries in the Keystone Heights lake region.
“The St. Johns River and our springs define the character of North Florida,” Bradley said in a news release. “In addition to providing scenic beauty and recreational opportunities to local residents, our river and springs attract visitors from across the state and nation.”
The Land Acquisition Trust Fund is primarily supported by Amendment 1, a referendum approved by Florida voters in 2014. The law sets aside one-third of the tax revenue from real estate transactions to buy land for preservation and for environmental restoration projects.
After its overwhelming passage, the Legislature drew criticism from the public over the way some of the money was being spent, contending some of the appropriations were not consistent with the requirements of the Land Acquisition Trust Fund.
The current budget includes $50 million for springs restoration and $13.3 million for St. Johns River projects, which Bradley worked to get in the budget, the release states.