2024 Legislative Update - Week 2
Jan. 19, 2024
The second week of Florida's Legislative Session contained several important environmental bills.
Estero Bay Aquatic Preserve – SB 1210 by Sen. Jonathan Martin passed unanimously this week in its first committee of reference. SB 1210 reduces the boundary of the Estero Bay Aquatic Preserve around the southern end of San Carlos Island. SCCF is working with the Estero Bay Buddies and other partner groups to diligently research this before we take a position on this bill. Our current concerns are that any contraction of the Estero Bay Aquatic Preserve must be rigorously vetted and ample evidence provided as to the reason for the change. Unfortunately, as it stands now, this bill and its staff analysis is opaque and does not provide a clear reason for the boundary change.

Estero Bay was the first Florida Aquatic Preserve established in 1966 by a group of conservation pioneers that recognized the exceptional ecological significance of the area. Reducing the boundary of the Preserve could impact important shorebird habitat and reduce the ecological and economic advantages it provides. Additionally, it would set a devastating precedent without a clear reason for the change. The identical House version, HB 957 by Rep. Botana has not yet been heard in its first committee. Stay tuned for updates and possible action alerts on this important bill.
Mangrove Replanting – SB 32 by Sen. Ileana Garcia passed unanimously this week in its second of three committee stops. This bill was supported last year but ultimately didn't pass. The identical companion bill in the House, HB 1581, has not yet been heard in any of the three assigned committees.
What 2024 Mangrove Replanting Bills Require of the Florida DEP

  • Address significant erosion in areas of critical state concern
  • Protect barrier and spoil islands
  • Assist Everglades restoration and Biscayne Bay revitalization efforts
  • Promote public awareness of the value of mangroves
  • Identify vulnerable properties along the coastline and encourage partnerships with local governmental entities to create mangrove protection and restoration zone programs
  • Protect and maintain access to the navigation of the marked channel and the right-of-way of the Florida Intracoastal Waterway
  • Create permitting incentives and encourage the use of new strategies for living shorelines and nature-based features
  • Encourage partnerships with local governmental entities to create projects for coastal protection through the Resilient Florida Grant Program
was voted on favorably this week. SB 298 is similar to the saltwater intrusion vulnerability assessment bill that received bipartisan support last year but never made it over the finish line. This year, the momentum for this bill is strong and has already passed its two committees of reference in the Senate. In addition to containing saltwater intrusion assessment provisions, it also contains a local government preemption related to Department of Environmental Protection authority of the coastal construction control lines approved after Dec. 1, 2023. The related House bill, HB 1079, has not yet been heard in any of the three committees stops.
As of last year, the House of Representatives has updated its rules for posting committee agendas, which allows for a little more than a 36-hour notice for bills appearing in committee Wednesday-Friday. Due to these tight timelines, please check our SCCF Legislative Tracker for late Friday environmental bill updates.
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