Working with the Florida Wildlife Federation, Budd sees heightened environmental awareness among policymakers. Meanwhile, conservationists like her are taking an increasingly pragmatic approach, helping balance development and environmentalism and using science to drive the conversation.

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Vision 2021: Meredith Budd on the Future of Conservation

With increased community collaboration, Florida Wildlife Federation policy director predicts a promising balance of preservation and growth.

It’s been an uphill battle to conserve the famously flat wetlands of Southwest Florida—with rapid residential growth encroaching on the natural habitat of the region’s wildlife. In the past 50 years, we’ve seen toxic algae blooms, declining animal populations and a shrinking Everglades. But with each struggle, we also catch glimmers of hope from conservationists.  An east coast transplant, Meredith Budd got involved in local conservation about five years ago, after studying environmental science and engaging in volunteer tourism in places like Costa Rica and the Galápagos. “Being involved, getting your hands dirty and being in the thick of things is what allows you to be more committed and understanding of the issues,” she says. “It makes you want to get engaged and want to make it a better place to live for all of us.” As a regional policy director for  the Florida Wildlife Federation, Budd sees a hopeful future—one with a sense of heightened awareness among policymakers. Officials on state and local levels, she says, are beginning to prioritize issues like water quality, Everglades restoration and habitat protection for endangered species. Budd believes future success hinges on balancing the needs of our area’s growth and the environment’s well-being. She’s helping set guidelines and create partnerships to find that middle road. For instance, she encourages developers to utilize lands that have already been cleared as opposed to clearin
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