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The South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD), a regional government agency, will vote yes or no on August 12th concerning the purchase of thousands of acres of U.S. Sugar Corporation’s lands in the Everglades.
If they vote to make the purchase, 26,800 acres of agricultural land could be repurposed to help restore and protect the Everglades, home of the Florida panther and many other endangered species. The deal would also give the agency a ten-year option to purchase even more of the property. But the SFWMD continues to battle economic uncertainty, and has considerably scaled back this project from its original plans two years ago.
In 2008, the Governing Board of the SFWMD voted to accept a proposal to acquire more than 180,000 acres of agricultural land for Everglades restoration from the United States Sugar Corporation, pending financing. However, following dramatic changes in economic conditions and predictions of a continued uncertain financial environment, the two parties later agreed to revise the transaction.
“Buying up Everglades agricultural land and removing it as a source of pollution will provide immediate benefits and is by far the best long term solution for Everglades restoration. While South Florida Wildlands Association is disappointed that more of U.S. Sugar’s vast holdings in the Everglades are not being purchased at this time, we consider this current purchase a major down payment on our region’s public water supply, outdoor recreational opportunities, and wildlife habitat,” said Matt Schwartz, Executive Director of South Florida Wildlands Association, in a recent e-mail to supporters, urging them to petition SFWMD and support a “yes” vote for the project.
According to The Rainforest Site, ecosystems like the Florida Everglades are a rapidly dwindling resource that provide vital habitat for a wide variety of wild animals.