Governor Announces Push for $130 Million for the Everglades During Meeting in Kissimmee
January 22, 2014 | WMFE - Gov. Rick Scott will include $130 million for Everglades restoration in his 2014 budget proposal. Scott made the announcement Wednesday during a meeting with his cabinet in Kissimmee.
[Photo: Courtesy Gov. Rick Scott]
The governor says the money would fund restoration of the Kissimmee River, which carries water from Central Florida to Lake Okeechobee and the Everglades.
Restoring the river would also reduce the flow of polluted water into coastal estuaries.
"This project will provide more than 100,000 acre-feet of storage and treatment to help protect our coasts from excessive flows from Lake Okeechobee. It'll also restore the winding Kissimmee River that will once again become one of Florida's true natural treasures."
The money would also fund the construction of a bridge over South Florida's Tamiami Trail, which serves as a dam for the river of grass.
Scott pushed an $880 million Everglades restoration plan through the Legislature last year, settling two decades of litigation.
Lawmakers expect a multi-million-dollar surplus when they reconvene this spring to work on the state budget.
The governor and cabinet also voted to expand the Rural and Family Lands Protection Program.
The program is aimed at protecting ranch lands from future development.
Ranchers like David "Lefty" Durando say protecting the lands between Orlando and Lake Okeechobee helps the Everglades.
"The solutions north of the lake I think are probably to do absolutely nothing. Don't develop it. Just don't develop it. Let us keep doing what we're doing. Let us keep ranching."
The vote authorizes about 50 more ranchers to join the program.
Environmentalists say they'll push for even more during the spring Legislative session.