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awesome start for everglades restoration

June 15, 2009


Dear PURRE Members:


Florida’s U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson recently shared a Miami Herald editorial that he said “spread the good news” about the federal government’s commitment to restoring the Everglades.


“Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Governor Crist, Representative Meek, and the assistant secretary of the Interior for the national parks system joined me on an airboat tour of the Glades in Broward County and a briefing on restoration and invasive species,” Sen. Nelson wrote in an e-mail to constituents.

“To say that Secretary Salazar was impressed is an understatement. He reiterated the Obama Administration’s strong commitment to the Everglades, most recently demonstrated by the influx of stimulus money directed at Everglades cleanup. I know you are as gratified as I am that our River of Grass is getting the national attention—and funding—it deserves,” Nelson concluded.


Here is the editorial Sen. Nelson was referring to:



Posted on Wed, Jun. 03, 2009

Awesome start for Everglades restoration

Lake Okeechobee's dike will finally be repaired to prevent flooding. The Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge in Palm Beach County will be improved. And sewer improvements will protect the Florida Keys from polluting the clear turquoise waters.

Those are among dozens of projects that will be infused with federal stimulus dollars this year, part of the Department of Interior's catch up on long overdue Florida projects.

It's customary for every newly appointed Interior secretary to visit Everglades National Park after taking the helm of the agency.

It's also customary, since 2000, for new Interior secretaries to promise that the federal government will do its part to fund the partnership it struck with the state of Florida nine years ago to clean up and replumb the Everglades.

Until Interior Secretary Ken Salazar came to South Florida last week there was more style than substance to these promises. Dribs and drabs came from the federal government, but the majority of Everglades clean-up funding so far -- $2 billion for 68 restoration projects and $4.8 billion on related clean-up projects -- has come from the state, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

Now, however, through economic-stimulus funding and its federal budget proposal, the Obama administration has committed $360 million to Everglades projects this fiscal year. The administration wants Congress to allocate an additional $278 million for 2010. This will translate into projects on the ground, some of which have been languishing since the historic $22.5 billion Everglades restoration plan was approved in 2000. Among projects that will begin with this money: wetlands restoration in the 55,000-acre Picayune Strand in Southwest Florida and repairs to Lake Okeechobee's dike. Mr. Salazar also declared his commitment to upgrading Tamiami Trail, a major obstacle for water flowing into the park.

The Obama administration's commitment to the clean-up and Mr. Salazar's early attention to the Everglades are most gratifying.

After an airboat tour of the Glades in Broward County, Mr. Salazar had a wide-ranging conversation with The Miami Herald's Editorial Board.

He pointed out that the Everglades tour was ''awesome'' and that Interior has a significant presence in Florida. In addition to Everglades and Biscayne national parks, Florida is home to 28 national wildlife refuges managed by Interior and 1,500 department employees.

As further proof of his commitment to Everglades clean-up, Mr. Salazar, as its chair, will host the Everglades restoration task force on June 24 in Washington. Not all Interior secretaries have been at the table during such meetings; some have sent surrogates.

Mr. Salazar promises to stay engaged. Awesome. Florida's River of Grass, its beaches and other pristine natural resources -- all a huge draw for our tourist economy -- deserve the attention.


© 2009 Miami Herald Media Company. All Rights Reserved.


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