A vote from the board of the South Florida Water Management District is keeping an Everglades restoration project alive – for now.
The deal, proposed by Gov. Charlie Crist, allows the state to spend $536 million to purchase 73,000 acres of U.S. Sugar Corporation land in the Everglades. This restoration project will help areas that have been polluted for decades by fertilizers and urban runoff.
Unfortunately, the deal is only safe for a month until the Florida Supreme Court makes its final decision, which should be in support of the purchase.
It may be expensive, but land restoration will be critical for protecting the states’ estuaries and ensuring a sustainable future.
The plan, which has been downsized twice, will convert thousands of acres of sugarcane land to water-cleansing marshes, according to the Miami Herald. The corporation could still farm for the next seven years, and the state would have the option of purchasing another 100,000 acres in the future.
According to Jill Zima Borksi, the Florida Keys Travel Examiner, most of the Florida Keys’ residents are excited about the plan for the much-needed work that will improve the area. Without it, the future of the Everglades, its wildlife and its residents cannot be guaranteed.
The Everglades are a state focal point and its restoration should be seen as a priority. The government is finally doing the right thing by using money to aid the sustainability of this important piece of land, and the deal must proceed.
Sara Fain, co-chair of the Everglades Coalition said to the Miami Herald that U.S. Sugar was the only company willing to sell land to the government.
If this deal doesn’t go through, it may be harder for Florida to acquire Everglades land in the future. “You have a mission to restore the Everglades, and this is what you need to do to it,” Fain said.
The price tag may be a stumbling block for some who see a half billion dollars as too much for environmental restoration, but this project will create jobs, ensure the sustainability of the Everglades and increase tourism in South Florida.
This is not wasteful spending but the restoration of something that is an important part of Florida history and the economy.
Xhenis Berberi is a senior majoring in political science and economics.