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Litigation for Conservation

Since 1936, the Florida Wildlife Federation has been a conservation leader in Florida, protecting our state’s iconic species and wild places. One important distinction of the Federation, though, is our ability and propensity to use litigation as an effective tool to protect and conserve Florida’s natural beauty and precious resources. 

Litigation is a fundamental pillar of the Federation’s conservation strategy, employed when traditional advocacy and outreach efforts prove insufficient in achieving the organization’s goals. The use of litigation allows the Federation to pursue legal remedies in cases where governmental agencies, corporations, or other entities may be failing to adequately protect or conserve Florida’s unique ecosystems, wildlife, and habitats.

The Federation’s use of litigation is not only reactive but also proactive. The organization may file lawsuits to challenge potentially damaging development projects, pollution permits, or other activities that could harm the environment before they even begin. By doing so, the Federation aims to prevent ecological harm and promote more sustainable practices, all within the bounds of the law.

By leveraging the legal system, the Federation can hold these entities accountable, ensuring that environmental laws and regulations are upheld and enforced.

FWF President and CEO, Sarah Gledhill, at the nation's Capital.

Current Litigation

Amendment 1
Representing the nearly 75% of Florida voters who supported a robust 20-year funding program for land conservation. Since 2015, Florida’s legislature has failed to accurately allocate the funding owed to the Land Acquisition Trust Fund while missing out on critical land protection and water quality projects
404 Permits
Challenging Florida’s unlawful assumption of the responsibility and oversight of the dredging and filling of waters and wetlands under the Clean Water Act 404 Section. Our wetlands are essential to water quality, storm and climate resiliency, threatened and endangered species, and the economy 
Apalachicola River
Challenging the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ management of water in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint Basin and ensuring sufficient water movement into the Apalachicola Bay. The Bay is known for its oyster fishery, however, the ecosystem and economy have collapsed due to insufficient water traveling south from GA & AL. 

Past Litigation

Protecting the Everglades
Blocked the development of the Scripps Biomedical Research Park immediately beside the Everglades on the Mecca Farms site in Palm Beach County. The project would have encouraged sprawl and impacted Everglades and Loxahatchee River restoration efforts, as well as neighboring conservation lands and rural communities. 
Pollution Dumping Into Lake Okeechobee
Required the South Florida Water Management District to get a Clean Water Act permit to operate its pumps, which move water north into Lake Okeechobee from the sugar fields located south of the lake. In response to our legal win, the national EPA created a new rule allowing such a transfer of polluted waters.
Lake Asbury Master Plan
Challenged Clay County comprehensive plan amendment that would allow the First Coast Outerbeltway through the Black Creek Ravines Conservation Area, forever destroying this recreational and environmental gem. Additional agreements included additional wetland buffers and density reductions in the master-planned area. 

Learn more about the Federation’s history and our work to conserve Florida’s iconic species and wild places.