Jul 17, 2012

Obama Administration Releases Report on Progress, Next Steps in Restoring Everglades

An additional $80 million was invested in project funding, putting the total to $1.5 billion invested in the Everglades since 2009

The Obama Administration released a report July 13 in Kissimmee, Fla., outlining the federal investments and progress made in Everglades restoration under the leadership of President Obama.

The administration also announced an additional $80 million in funding to support farmers and ranchers who voluntarily conserve wetlands on agricultural land in the Northern Everglades Watershed. This new investment, part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wetlands Reserve Program, will restore an additional 23,000 acres of wetlands vital to water quality and wildlife habitat in the Everglades system.

Using the partnerships and community-led approach that is a hallmark of the President’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative, the administration has reinvigorated federal leadership in Everglades restoration, investing $1.5 billion in Everglades projects and initiatives that will make a measurable impact on the ground, including nearly $900 million to jumpstart key construction projects that will restore water flow and essential habitat. 

These projects have generated 6,600 Florida jobs so far and are expected to generate more. President Obama has also requested an additional $246 million in the Fiscal Year 2013 Budget to build on this progress and continue the investments, partnerships and projects that will return the Everglades to health.

“President Obama has made restoring the iconic Everglades a national priority,” U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said. “Restoring these wetlands demonstrates a strong commitment to partnerships with ranchers and farmers to improve water quality and habitat protection while supporting Florida’s strong agricultural economy and ranching heritage.”

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson added, "The Everglades are essential to the environmental and economic strength of so many Florida communities. The health of this ecosystem affects everything from water quality and biodiversity to tourism, an industry that supports thousands of jobs across the state.”

Working in partnership with the state of Florida, tribes and local leaders since 2009, the Obama administration has restored more than 3,000 acres of the floodplains along the Kissimmee River; worked with landowners to improve habitat and water quality on more than 400,000 agricultural acres; begun constructing the first mile of bridging for the Tamiami Trail to restore water flow to Everglades National Park; begun implementing key components of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan to make more water available for environmental, urban and agricultural use; and reached a historic agreement with the state of Florida to make essential water quality improvements, including $879 million in state commitments for water quality projects.