2020 is ending on a high note, and no one and nothing is more excited about this fact than the Everglades and three nationally-vital coastal estuaries, including the headwaters of the Florida Keys.
We have a Governor, Ron DeSantis, who has not wavered in his commitment to push back against the status quo and get our most important Everglades restoration project – the EAA Reservoir and Treatment Project – moving. This is by far the most important project for Everglades restoration. We’ve waited more than 20 years for this day. Despite all the hurdles the sugar industry and their lobbyists have thrown their way, the Governor and the Governing Board and staff of the South Florida Water Management District have ushered in the project in record time. Permits have been issued and work has begun!
We have a Congressman, Brian Mast, who has been an Everglades warrior in Washington, D.C., like few before him. Congressman Mast joins a small, but amazing group of men and women who have shown courage in the face of unbelievable adversity to bring Everglades restoration to the point we are at today. He knows who and what is killing the Everglades and is not shy about calling them by name – the sugar industry.
On the southern end of the system, we have a brand-new leader in Miami-Dade County. The Mayor of the County, Daniella Levine Cava, was just sworn into office. Unafraid of challenging the status quo and the naysayers (paid to be naysayers!), this remarkable leader loves the Everglades and stands with us in her commitment to pull that necessary clean freshwater south.
Quite the trio, I’d say. Different political parties in different parts of the state. But just saying it reinforces what we already knew – this epic battle to save one of the most important ecosystems on the planet, the Everglades, is not a partisan issue. It is something everyone can and should rally around.
There are others, of course. Some in high places. Their tests are coming, as the growing threat to sugar’s political power is threatened and their ability to navigate choppy water will not be easy. Sugar will continue to fight it, but we believe we have soldiers today looking out for the State’s best interests.
So, you best believe I am optimistic about the future of America’s Everglades. But none of this, none of it, would be possible without the support of hundreds of thousands of Floridians – and many from around the nation – who have had enough and are letting their politicians know it.
On behalf of the Board and staff at the Everglades Trust, I wish you a very Merry Christmas and happy holidays. And as we say goodbye to 2020, I ask you to stick with us!
Working alongside the Everglades community and leading that effort in D.C. was Congressman Mast and former Congresswoman Debbie Mucarsel-Powell. These two are members of the powerful Transportation and Infrastructure Committee that ensured the following made their way into the Water Resources Development Act of 2020, also known as WRDA 2020. They include:
- Securing record funding for Everglades restoration
- Accelerating construction of the EAA Southern Storage Reservoir
- Reducing discharges from Lake Okeechobee
- Combating harmful algal blooms
- Preventing the sugar industry from manipulating Florida’s waterways
The Everglades Trust cannot explain these successes better than Congressman Brian Mast’s office does with the news release he sent out yesterday. Click this link to read it in its entirety.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
We all know that the EAA Reservoir is the most critical Everglades Restoration project. Despite this, leadership in the Florida Senate is suggesting the EAA Reservoir be defunded in favor of a project north of the lake – ASR wells – which will serve as water supply for sugar and developers north of Lake O.
"Wilton Simpson, a Republican egg farmer from Trilby, called the $1.6 billion Everglades Agricultural Area reservoir a 'mistake' while speaking at the Florida Chamber of Commerce’s Summit. Simpson advocated instead for more water storage north of the lake, echoing similar sentiments the Chamber and U.S. Sugar Corp. have voiced for years."
The Everglades Foundation presented the annual John Marshall Everglades Symposium virtually this year, commemorating the 20th anniversary of the authorization of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP).
If you weren't able to join us, we highly recommend you tune in to these five panel discussions.