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Save the Manatee Club
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Florida’s legislative session closed last Friday, and we need your help to ask Governor DeSantis to veto two affronts to Florida’s water quality improvement efforts.

SB 540/HB 349 made its way through the House and Senate and is now on Governor DeSantis’s desk. This legislation would make it almost impossible for citizens to challenge potentially detrimental planning decisions at the local level for fear of being required to pay the hefty legal fees of developers and local governments. Potentially at jeopardy are millions of dollars in Everglades projects and many local growth management plans.

Unfortunately, but perhaps not surprisingly, another measure was included into the state’s budget language at the final hour that would harm Florida’s waterways. The measure would prohibit local governments from adopting ordinances with rainy-season fertilizer bans for this fiscal year, while the issue is studied. However, 17 counties and over 100 municipalities have had such bans in place for many years and there is overwhelming evidence, both scientific and anecdotal, that they do work to improve water quality. Because the request is part of the budget bill, it was not heard by any committee.

PLEASE URGE GOVERNOR DESANTIS TO VETO SB 540 and the Fertilizer Ban Provision.

Despite these setbacks, there was some progress made to better protect the Indian River Lagoon, which is important manatee habitat. HB 1379/SB1632 improves wastewater treatment by prohibiting conventional septic systems in some areas and requiring upgrades to existing systems by 2030. The bill also applies in springs areas, so it’s a win. A bill calling for the barrier islands of the Indian River Lagoon to be designated State Areas of Critical Concern means that development on those islands will undergo an extra level of scrutiny before it is approved, which is also beneficial. We also saw increased funds allocated to Florida Forever, Florida’s land buying program that will help us continue to conserve important recharge areas and habitat.

We thank you for your continued support to protect manatees and their habitat now and for future generations.



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