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Jax Daily Record Tuesday, Jan. 17, 201712:00 PM EST

Senate sets course for St. Johns River plan

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A proposal to steer money toward protecting the St. Johns River, along with its tributaries or lakes in the Keystone Heights region, may be set for smooth sailing in the Senate.

Sen. Rob Bradley holds leadership posts in two of the three committees slated to vet a measure he’s backing that would set aside $35 million annually for the river.

Bradley serves as chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on the Environment and Natural Resources, and vice chairman of the Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee.

Senate President Joe Negron assigned those committees, along with the chamber’s full budget committee, to review Bradley’s proposal (SB 234).

Under Bradley’s bill, the money — which would come from the voter-approved Land Acquisition Trust Fund — could be used for land management and acquisition as well as improvements in recreational opportunities and public access.

Bradley’s plan is similar to money that lawmakers have earmarked for Everglades projects, natural springs and Lake Apopka.

Last week, Bradley announced his support for Negron’s latest effort to protect the Everglades by buying land south of Lake Okeechobee as part of an effort to store and clean water and reduce releases from Lake Okeechobee into the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie estuaries.

“There is zero daylight between President Negron and I as far as our concern for what has happened and our urgency to move forward and what we need to accomplish,” Bradley said.

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