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Environment

Everglades Activist Says Reservoir Still In Play

Environmentalists are still holding out hope that lawmakers will approve a proposal to spend $500 million on Everglades restoration.
Environmentalists are still holding out hope that lawmakers will approve a proposal to spend $500 million on Everglades restoration.

After less than a week of sometimes angry budget negotiations, environmentalists are optimistic the Legislature will buy tens of thousands of acres of agricultural land for Everglades restoration.

Environmentalists are still holding out hope that lawmakers will approve a proposal to spend $500 million on Everglades restoration.
Environmentalists are still holding out hope that lawmakers will approve a proposal to spend $500 million on Everglades restoration.

Activists are pinning their hopes on a key lawmaker, Republican Senator Joe Negron of Stuart.

Audubon of Florida executive director Eric Draper says Negron is under pressure from residents downstream of the St. Lucie River.

“Senator Negron’s constituents are very concerned about all of the polluted water that’s being discharged to the coastal estuaries from Lake Okeechobee.”

Negron is pushing for $500 million, Draper says. That would be more than enough to build a reservoir for cleaning up overflow from the lake before it replenishes the Everglades.

“Five hundred million dollars, at about $10,000 an acre could buy as much as 50,000 acres in the Everglades agricultural area. I don’t think we need that much land for a reservoir. We probably need a footprint of about 20,000 acres.”

The South Florida Water Management District has already turned down a contract to buy about 46,000 acres from U.S. Sugar.

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