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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Four ex-governors back restoring Florida Forever funding



Bobmartinez Environmental groups have lined up four ex-governors -- Reubin Askew, Bob Graham, Bob Martinez and Jeb Bush -- for their campaign to restore funding to the Florida Forever land-buying program.

Martinez himself took the microphone at a news conference on the shores of Tampa Bay Wednesday to tout the program's benefits and call for the Legislature to put money back into the popular program.

"I don't run into anybody that's against it," said Martinez, who was joined by Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio, Gainesville Mayor Pegeen Hanrahan and Southwest Florida Water Management District board member Heidi McCree at the event at Tampa's waterfront Cypress Point Park. "It's a question of do we have the money."

He contended that since the program generally buys environmentally sensitive land owned by Florida residents, "you are helping the economy" by enabling it to get started again. Martinez was governor in 1990 when the program's predecessor, Preservation 2000, started.

This year, for the first time, lawmakers failed to put any money into the kitty for buying land, so now a group that includes the Trust for Public Land, the Nature Conservancy, the Florida Wildlife Federation and the Defenders of Wildlife are trying to get it restored. So far, however, no legislation has been filed, said Jill Austin of the Nature Conservancy.

[AP file photo: Bob Martinez]

Craig Pittman, Times Staff Writer


[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 2:22pm]


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