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Audubon of Florida to honor Nelson for conservation efforts

Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., will accept an award for his conservation efforts at an assembly this Friday in Lake Mary.

Audubon of Florida’s Theodore Roosevelt Award goes to lawmakers whose conservation efforts have made a notable impact on Florida’s ecosystems and wildlife. Roosevelt was one of the founding members of the Florida Audubon Society and established the first National Wildlife Refuge at Pelican Island.

“The very name Theodore Roosevelt stands for resilience, resolve and courage in the face of fire,” said Audubon Executive Director Eric Draper in a press release. “No public figure in Florida embodies those values like Senator Bill Nelson.”

Nelson has been vocal about protecting Florida’s coasts from offshore oil drilling in Cuba, and has worked to restore the Everglades. In a press release, Audubon called him “the most reliable champion of Florida’s environment” for the past three decades, “willing to stand up to oil companies and other powerful interests while bringing leaders from across the country to view the Everglades and elicit widespread support for protecting Florida’s environment.”

Nelson has also been a leading advocate for the RESTORE Act** **(.pdf), which requires that 80 percent of Clean Water Act fines paid by BP and other parties responsible for last year’s oil spill go directly to restoring the health of the Gulf Coast. Typically, Clean Water Act fines go directly into the U.S. treasury, where they are then used for a variety of projects.

Sixty percent of the funds will go to the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council, 35 percent will be equally divided among the five Gulf Coast states and 5 percent will go toward a science and fisheries program. Republican Sen. Marco Rubio also played a role in getting that legislation to the Senate floor.

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