Valenstein reaffirmed as head of DEP

The cabinet votes on Noah Valenstein's position as secretary of Florida DEP.
Photo Submitted by Nya Ramirez.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and his cabinet voted unanimously Tuesday on Noah Valenstein to remain as secretary of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

Attorney General Ashley Moody, Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis and Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried all voted in support of DeSantis’ endorsement of Valenstein to remain as the top environmental official.

Valenstein was first appointed secretary of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection in May 2017 by former Gov. Rick Scott.

Fried said that she feels confident that Valenstein is committed to improving the water quality, and other environmental issues, based previous meetings they have had before his recent appointment.

“I’m encouraged by the conversations that we two had in my office this week — I believe that we share the commitment to finding ways for DEP, and my department to work together on water quality issues,” Fried said.

After listening to Valenstein’s extensive experience in environmental studies, each member of the cabinet said it was the right choice to keep Valenstein as secretary of DEP in order to improve Florida’s ecosystem.

After securing the position, Valenstein went right to work when discussing two land acquisitions that will cost $2.54 million to purchase land in Lake and Hamilton counties for the Florida Forever conservation program.

After evaluating the significance of the project, DeSantis and the cabinet approved both land acquisitions in efforts to preserve the environment and decrease the issues among natural wildlife.

The Wekiva-Ocala Greenway Florida Project is a task that will take efforts to protect wildlife within the national forest, and Wekiva and St Johns River basins by protecting natural corridors among the connecting ecosystems. The project will consist of 83 acres in property on five contiguous lakefront parcels located on Lake Norris.

DeSantis and the cabinet also voted in support of the second land acquisition for Florida’s First Magnitude Springs Florida Forever Project which will acquire the Hardee Spring property in efforts to protect the Withlacoochee River, and increase the ecological value and maintain the distinctive character of Twin Rivers state forest.

“I think both of these projects are great demonstrations about how we’re adding more value to the footprint we already have — both of these projects expand and show connections between the forest and other state management properties —and really shows us increasing value of our current infrastructure," Valenstein said.

Both of these projects are expected to improve the land around springs, and reduce mining, clearcutting, and the harm against wildlife in these environments. Valenstein said he is committed and ready to improve Florida’s natural habitats one step at a time.