Everglades Coalition recognizes Governor Crist's environmental leadership in restoration of River of Grass
MIAMI - Governor Charlie Crist today will address the Everglades Coalition Conference in Miami. The conference is the organization's annual forum for discussion of Everglades conservation and restoration.
"We are closer than ever before to acquiring the land necessary to restore the natural flow of water from Lake Okeechobee, through Everglades National Park, and to the estuaries of Florida Bay," Governor Crist said. "Together with great organizations like the Everglades Coalition, we are establishing a legacy of protection for the Everglades, for Florida and for generations to come."
Co-chairs of the coalition Mark Perry, executive director of the Florida Oceanographic Society, and Sara Fain, Everglades restoration program manager with the National Parks Conservation Association, will present Governor Crist with the Everglades Legacy Award. Never given before, the award recognizes Governor Crist for his leadership in environmental conservation, including his role in encouraging the South Florida Water Management District's recent approval of the historic land purchase deal, in which the district will buy 182,000 acres of land from United States Sugar Corporation.
"Governor Charlie Crist has demonstrated a clear commitment to restore the Everglades ecosystem," said Mark Perry, Everglades Coalition co-chair. "His bold actions will result in a true legacy for the Everglades, Florida and its people."
Governor Crist announced the goal to purchase this land during the 2008 Serve to Preserve Florida Summit on Global Climate in Miami. The Everglades land acquisition represents one of the largest environmental land acquisitions in the nation's history. The vast acreage is the "missing link" that the South Florida Water Management District needs to reconnect Lake Okeechobee and Everglades National Park and to protect Florida's coastal estuaries and better revive, restore and preserve one of America's greatest natural treasures - the Everglades. U.S. Sugar will remain on the land for a seven-year timeframe, subject to a final closing of the current contract.
In October 2008, Audubon of Florida, a member organization of the Everglades Coalition, presented Governor Crist with the "Champion of the Everglades" Award for his leadership in encouraging the South Florida Water Management District to negotiate for the purchase of land owned by the United States Sugar Corporation.
Highlights of Governor Crist's Leadership in Everglades Restoration
In 2008-09, the tightest budget year in Florida history, $50 million has been dedicated for Everglades restoration to continue the state's partnership with the federal government to restore America's River of Grass. In addition, Governor Crist has signed legislation expanding for another decade Florida Forever, Florida's land conservation program and the largest conservation effort in the nation. Through Florida Forever and its predecessor, Preservation 2000, Florida has invested $5 billion to place more than two million acres throughout the state in public ownership, conserving environmentally sensitive land, restoring water resources and preserving important cultural and historical sites.
In 2007, Governor Crist signed legislation that expands the restoration of the famed River of Grass to include Lake Okeechobee and the farthest northern reaches of the Everglades ecosystem, highlighting the connectivity of the entire ecosystem from the Kissimmee headwaters to the Florida Keys. This legislation requires the development of technical plans, schedules and provides dedicated funding to improve and protect the Northern Everglades, including Lake Okeechobee and the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee coastal estuaries. Also in 2007, the Save Our Everglades Trust Fund was extended for 10 years through 2020 and expands its purpose, underscoring Florida's commitment to Everglades restoration.
Source: Florida Governor's Office
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