Forever and Everglades
Very promising news out of Florida this week. I’m far from the first blog to mention it, but I’m not going to let such a big story go uncommented on. US Sugar, the largest sugar corporation in the United States, is currently negotiating a deal to be bought out by the state, turning 187,000 acres of plantation over to the South Florida Water Management District. The deal essentially closes the gap between Lake Okeechobee and the Everglades National Park, securing nearly the entire Everglades watershed. The impact on wildlife in region is obvious, but other, more important advantages will be realized as well. From the Miami Herald:
The district hopes to swap some of the company’s holdings with those of other sugar growers, opening a massive swath south of Lake Okeechobee to construct reservoirs and pollution cleanup marshes that would resolve two of the restoration effort’s biggest problems — the water is still too polluted and there isn’t enough of it to restore the natural flow of the River of Grass.
The whole cost of the land purchase is upwards of $1.7 billion, most coming from budgets for other Everglades restoration projects, not least of which the proposal for deep wells initially proposed as a way to restore the water flow. Now that the land is purchased, such wells appear to be unnecessary.
The huge land purchase is a dream come true for environmental groups though, and it’s predicted that in as short as 20 years, visitors to the Everglades will be able to see the ecosystem as it was 100 years ago. It all has to do with the CEO of US Sugar, Robert Buker, making the decision to sell to the government rather than a rival sugar company. Buker said:
“It’s dollars and cents and the right thing to do. If I had to go out I’d rather — all of us would rather it went out to make the state of Florida better.”
Lovers of wildlife all over the world would agree.