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Saturday, December 30, 2006

Great idea, but more info needed

Published Dec. 22, 2006 Opinion
One need look no further than this year's $76 million deal for the Avatar property near Silver Springs to realize the value of the state's primary conservation program, Florida Forever. That purchase fended off a major development project on nearly 4,500 acres of water recharge area just north of historic Silver Springs.

To prevent that, an array of 16 leading environmental groups - including Audubon of Florida, 1,000 Friends of Florida and The Nature Conservancy, which helped broker the Avatar deal - have joined to fight for Florida Forever's life.

In an open letter to state residents on Oct. 9, these groups, under an umbrella organization called the Florida Forever Coalition, issued a call to arms. They urged state officials to act by 2008 to extend the program, now set to expire in 2010, and to expand its reach by tripling its annual budget from $300 million to $1 billion.
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