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Florida House, Senate Budgets Disappoint Everglades Supporters

The Everglades. Photo: National Parks Service
The Everglades. Photo: National Parks Service

The Florida House and Senate budgets- which passed last week- include money for conservation and land acquisition.

But environmental advocates say it’s not enough.

The Florida Senate initially set aside $2 million for Florida Forever- the state's land acquisition program- then increased the funding to $35 million.

The House budget includes $205 million for Florida Forever.

But Mary Barley, president of the Everglades Trust, said the budgets are ‘terribly inadequate’.

“If you want to save our drinking water and you want to clear up and restore the Everglades, you have to have this reservoir that is South of the lake and without it, it’s not going to work," said Barley.

"Everglades restoration will not be properly done," she said.

Environmental advocates want the state of Florida to buy 46,000 acres of land south of Lake Okeechobee from US sugar. They say the state has the money after a constitutional amendment passed in November.

“They’re not going to do eminent domain, and if they’re not going to do eminent domain they need to honor this contract and buy the land as the people of the state of Florida said they want," said Barley.

But some lawmakers say instead of buying more land the state should concentrate on looking after the land it already owns. And US Sugar says the land that environmentalists want the state to buy is unsuitable for a reservoir.