Connecting People to Nature
The Etoniah/Cross Florida Greenway is a project that works to connect open space lands across five counties in Northern Florida. It is run by the Florida Forever Program, a voluntary, state-run conservation program in the state of Florida.
Recognizing the importance of open space and land conservation, the citizens of Florida ratified a 1998 amendment on state funding for conservation purposes. The amendment allocates up to $300 million dollars per year to various Florida Forever activities, such as purchasing public lands in the form of parks, trails, forests and wildlife management areas.
These activities include purchasing public lands on the Florida Forever acquisition list, working farmlands and waterfronts, and conservation lands for water resource development. The funding also goes to the Department of Community Affairs, which helps local communities build their recreational spaces such as trails and corridors.
Through these actions, Florida Forever strives to conserve land in a strategic manner to protect and connect existing green space. One recent Florida Forever project, the Etoniah/Cross Florida Greenway, set out an ambitious plan to connect existing greenspace across five northern Florida counties. Part of this project focused on placing land adjacent to the Ocala National Forest into conservation easements. This plan will help to create an extensive wildlife corridor for the Florida Black Bear.