Purchasing the Everglades

Exclusive deal for Florida expires this week.

Wildlife basks in the sun in the Florida Everglades. The system begins near Orlando with the Kissimmee River, which discharges into the vast but shallow Lake Okeechobee.     Photo: Hans Stieglitz/Wikimedia

What ever happened to the deal to save the Everglades wetlands?

Five years ago, Florida announced that it would purchase almost 300 square miles of sugarcane land from U.S. Sugar for $1.75 billion. That deal expires this week. 

Recently, 38 state environmental groups have called on the state's current governor to finish the deal announced by his predecessor, NPR reports.

“What we want to do is have more water come south, be stored and cleaned up so it can be sent south to the Everglades,” Jonathan Ullman of the Sierra Club told NPR.

In 2008, Florida announced the largest land purchase in the state’s history to preserve the Everglades. But when the recession hit Florida in 2010, the economy worsened, and opposition to the purchase grew. The state settled and purchased just one-seventh of the original offer. However, Florida retained the exclusive option to purchase the remaining land for the next three years.

Environmentalists are hopeful that the current governor will purchase some of the land this week, but they also have their eyes set on 2020. Florida still has a non-exclusive option to buy the land for the next seven years, a deadline that comes after another election for state governor.

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