Environmentalists and others protested across the state, including in Brevard County, on Saturday, just as lawmakers are heading back to Tallahassee for a special session on the budget.
Lawmakers are debating how to appropriate funding for Amendment 1, which aims to acquire and restore conservation land in Florida.
Environmentalists want state lawmakers to adequately fund Amendment 1. Voters approved the amendment last year to help the Florida Forever conservation program.
“The biggest fear is that the Legislature will put no money into Florida Forever, that they’ll spend all the money, taking things that should be in the operating budget of the state and instead spend Amendment 1 monies on the wrong things,” said Tony Dutton with the Space Coast League of Women Voters.
Florida Forever is a state conservation program that buys land or development rights.
Backers of Amendment 1 say the money should be used to purchase land for conservation purposes.They want to reduce the amount of development, which they say can result in more runoff and pollution into Florida's waters. That includes the Indian River Lagoon.
“We all want a healthy, clean Indian River Lagoon here in Brevard County, and part of getting there is making sure we have adequate buffering lands in place to protect the water quality that gets into the lagoon,” said Leesa Souto with the Marine Resources Council.
Lawmakers are expected to determine where the money for Amendment 1 goes when they begin their special session on Monday.