The Duval Soil and Water Conservation District board is urging Governor DeSantis to veto SB1078. As Florida’s economy and population continues to grow, Soil and Water Conservation Districts provide a critical service promoting the conservation of our most valuable asset, Florida’s natural resources.
What is the purpose of Soil and Water Conservation Districts? Florida Statue 582.02 identifies the purpose of Soil and Water Conservation Districts as being to promote the appropriate and efficient use of soil and water resources, protect water quality, prevent floodwater and sediment damage, preserve wildlife, protect public lands, and protect and promote the health, safety, and general welfare of the people of this state. The statute also identifies the focus of this mission as being not just on farmlands but also the forest, grazing lands, green spaces, recreational areas and natural areas of the state. Soil and Water Conservation District leadership provides assistance, guidance, and education not just to the agricultural industry, but also to landowners, land occupiers, and the general public in implementing land and water resource protection practices. SB1078 limits board membership to only those with farming or agricultural background which will prevent soil scientists, civil engineers, water quality experts, educators and conservationists from serving. This will severely limit the ability of Soil and Water Conservation Districts to fulfill the obligations of the statute.
It is worth noting that the Governor has made it a priority of his administration to improve water quality across the state and to protect wildlife including Florida manatees. The passage of SB1078 undermines the Governor’s achievements in these areas of natural resource protection.
The Duval Soil and Water Conservation District urges the Governor to veto any bill which weakens any Florida Soil and Water Conservation District, specifically Senate Bill 1078. We urge the people of Florida to join us in this effort!