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Pinellas County to Celebrate Parks and advocate for conservation on Earth Day

Special guests supporting the effort include Congressman Charlie Crist, Mayor Rick Kriseman and other Pinellas elected officials.

St. Petersburg, FL (April 10, 2019) –  In recognition of the 49th Earth Day, elected officials and community members from Pinellas County will gather on Monday, April 22nd to celebrate the importance of parks and conservation with a press conference and cleanup at Bartlett Park.

Elected officials including U.S. Congressman Charlie Crist; St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman; Pinellas County Commissioners; and St. Petersburg Council members will recognize the significant investments made and their continuing commitment towards water and land conservation.

“Conserving water and land is one of the most important things we can do to protect our quality of life,” said Lindsay Cross, Public Lands Advocate for Florida Conservation Voters. “As our region continues to attract residents and businesses, it’s critical that we invest in new conservation through programs like Florida Forever and the Land and Water Conservation Fund.”

Congressman Charlie Crist has been a leader on environmental issues at the state and federal level, including supporting re-authorization and permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund in February 2019. The Fund has infused more than $14 million into 46 parks, including Bartlett Park, and wildlife refuges in Pinellas County.

“Earth Day is a yearly reminder that our lands and the natural resources we depend on are precious. As stewards of the Earth, it is our duty to conserve and protect them,” said Crist. “The Florida Conservation Voters and Tampa Bay Watch are working to do just that, and our job as elected officials is to honor their passion with action. Programs like LWCF and Florida Forever are critical to maintaining our water and public lands for future generations.”

The City of St. Petersburg manages 137 parks on 2,300 acres of public land, including more than 7 miles of downtown waterfront. The city is also accelerating efforts to tackle climate change and promote a sustainable future.

Said Mayor Kriseman: “I am incredibly pleased to join the  Florida Conservation Voters, as well as advocates for the environment on this Earth Day. I have been fighting for our environment and natural places since I began my career in public service. Growth and progressive values like combating climate change and caring for our environment can coexist. I hope you’ll join us this Earth Day in celebration of our common home.”

Following the press conference, the public is invited to stay for a park cleanup, led by Tampa Bay Watch.

WHAT: Pinellas County elected officials, including Congressman Charlie Crist; St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman; Pinellas County Commissioners and St. Petersburg Council members join Florida Conservation Voters and Tampa Bay Watch for an Earth Day press conference and cleanup

WHEN: Monday, April 22, 2019. 10:00 am - 12:00 pm

WHERE: Bartlett Park, 2000 7th St S., St. Petersburg, FL 33705

RSVP:   Press Conference: Lindsay Cross, Florida Conservation Voters, lindsay@fcvoters.org

            Cleanup: Melanie Grillone. Tampa Bay Watch,  mgrillone@tampabaywatch.org

To learn more about the #LoveFlorida and Public Lands campaign, visit http://www.fcvedfund.org/loveflorida/

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ABOUT FLORIDA CONSERVATION VOTERS

Florida Conservation Voters elects conservation leaders to public office. FCV aims to become the state’s leading non-partisan political voice for protecting Florida’s environment. FCV elects, educates, and holds elected officials accountable for their conservation and environmental policy votes through a multi-pronged approach, including elections, legal action, voter outreach, grassroots activism, and lobbying. Learn more at https://www.fcvoters.org/

ABOUT FCV’s #LOVEFLORIDA PUBLIC LANDS CAMPAIGN

The Florida Public Lands campaign celebrates beloved parks and preserves throughout the state and engages Floridians in sharing why they #LoveFlorida. With a goal of re-authorizing and fully funding critical land and water conservation programs like Florida Forever and the Land and Water Conservation Fund, FCV highlights iconic Florida parks and preserves that have been protected through these programs.

ABOUT TAMPA BAY WATCH

Tampa Bay Watch is a 501(c)3 non-profit dedicated to the protection and restoration of the Tampa Bay estuary through scientific and educational programs.  Learn more at http://www.tampabaywatch.org/

ABOUT THE LAND AND WATER CONSERVATION FUND

The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) is one of the most effective programs nationally for conserving parks and access to recreation. Started in 1964, this bi-partisan effort directed $900 million annually from oil and gas fees towards the creation of national wildlife refuges, forests, rivers, lakes, community parks and trails in each 50 states. Pinellas County has received more than $14 million to support the Pinellas National Wildlife Refuge and 46 parks, including Bartlett Park in south St. Petersburg. This fund expired in September 2018 but, was re-authorized with permanent funding in February 2019.

ABOUT THE FLORIDA FOREVER CONSERVATION PROGRAM

The popular Florida Forever land and water conservation program has served as a nationwide model for conservation. Started in 1991 by Governor Bob Martinez and the Legislature as Preservation 2000 and then as Florida Forever under the leadership of Governor Jeb Bush, the program infused $300 million annually into conservation and recreation. The program was de-funded following the 2008 recession and has had meager allocations in the past decade, despite widespread public support. The Water and Legacy Amendment (Amendment 1) passed by 75% of voters in 2014, yet the Legislature has failed to adequately fund the Florida Forever program. With two weeks left of the regular session, both chambers have recommended less than $50 million, despite a recommended allocation of $100 million  by Governor DeSantis.

 

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