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FL -State Cabinet approves Florida Forever land conservation deals

Gov. Ron DeSantis and state Cabinet members drew praise from environmentalists Thursday after agreeing to spend $79 million on seven Florida Forever land deals.

The deals include protecting thousands of acres in Franklin and Wakulla counties that include frontage on the Gulf of Mexico and conserving a chunk of property in Hendry County that is an area for Florida panthers.

The decisions by DeSantis and the Cabinet to approve the deals came amid growing expectations about state budget cuts next fiscal year because of the economic hit from the coronavirus. Environmental groups issued statements Thursday saying the protection of conservation lands strengthens Florida’s “environment-dependent” economy.

“From tourism to real estate, agriculture to defense, our state’s economy hinges on healthy wetlands, protected open space, and clean water,” Audubon Florida said in a news release. “All seven of these proposals are remarkable acquisitions for the communities and the economies they support.”