Florida governor touts more spending for wildlife corridors, red tide research

(The Center Square) — Gov. Ron DeSantis announced on Tuesday that the Florida Wildlife Corridor program and red tide research will receive a financial boost.

The corridor program will receive $100 million through Senate Bill 1638, while the red tide program that combines the efforts of the Department of Environmental Protection, the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Mote Marine Laboratory will continue after the signing of House Bill 1565.

Taxpayers have spent $125 million on the red tide mitigation program since 2019.

He said that being a good steward of Florida’s natural resources is important because it is the right thing to do and because it has a huge economic impact on the state.

“Outdoor recreation in the state of Florida generates over $52 billion in economic output, and our Florida state parks alone, have an economic impact of $3.6 billion, and it supports 50,000 jobs total,” DeSantis said.

DeSantis added that the impact is significant and that he and lawmakers understand that this is part of the Sunshine State’s lifeblood and that he is proud that he and lawmakers have taken action to preserve and restore Florida’s natural assets.

Florida’s Wildlife Corridor funding began in 2021 to allow animals to move more freely, and lower the risk of them going onto interstates and highways. DeSantis added that to date, almost 18 million acres of land are dedicated to the corridor, including 10 million acres of protected conservation land.

“This includes state parks, includes our forests, includes privately managed conservation lands, family farms, and national parkland,” DeSantis said. “So, this corridor is specifically designed to connect the state land so wildlife can freely and safely move between them.”

DeSantis noted that since 2019, around 216,000 of conservation land, and more than 90% of that land was inside Florida’s wildlife corridor, representing a $1.4 billion investment. Six billion dollars have also been allocated to the Everglades Restoration Program and other water quality projects.

The Republican governor said that Senate President Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples, spearheaded a new gaming compact with the Seminole Tribe of Florida, to allow a portion of gaming and casino profits to go towards conservation efforts.

The state is also working on research around the occurrence of red tides. HB 1565 will help to mitigate the impacts of red tide algal blooms.

“We think this is something that is a noble effort, and so HB 1565, this is gonna continue our red tide mitigation and technology development initiative,” DeSantis said.