Editorial: Florida lawmakers poised to make historic mistake

The editorial by The Miami Herald urges lawmakers to purchase over 46,000 acres of land from U.S. Sugar in an effort to help save the Everglades.

The Miami Herald

Florida lawmakers may be on the verge of making a mistake of historic proportions by letting a splendid opportunity to aid Everglades restoration and clean up waters east and west of Lake Okeechobee slip through their fingers this session.

This may sound like hyperbole, but it isn’t.

If anything, it understates the stakes involved for Florida’s environmental future as a deadline to buy land that could be used as a reservoir to store and clean polluted water gets nearer while the state dawdles.

The land is available. The state has an option to buy 46,800 acres from U.S. Sugar under an agreement reached in 2010, when land values were low because of the housing collapse and the recession. The deal calls for a base price of $7,400 per acre or fair market value, whichever is higher.

The acreage is a key piece of the Everglades restoration puzzle. The low-lying areas south of the lake would serve as reservoirs to filter out pollution and renew the flow of cleaner water that historically fed the River of Grass. Also: It would reduce the need to release polluted discharges east and west through the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers that wind up fouling coastal estuaries on both the Atlantic and Gulf coasts.

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