02/11/2019 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 02/11/2019 20:33
We write to request your direct support for a sustained annual commitment of $200 million in construction funding for South Florida Ecosystem Restoration (SFER) in your Administration's future budget requests to Congress. Along with your leadership in fulfilling this funding request, your unique background and experience is key to advancing this world-class environmental infrastructure project to restore America's Everglades.
As evidenced by a recent letter addressed to you and signed by all 27 members of Florida's delegation in the U.S. House of Representatives, support for the Everglades is broad-based and bipartisan. The federal-state partnership to restore the Everglades is critical to protecting Florida's unique environmental character, preserving our state's full economic potential, and enhancing the resilience of every community south of Lake Okeechobee. Unfortunately, federal funding has not kept pace with the state's increasing contributions.
Florida's recent struggles with harmful algal blooms have raised the stakes for accelerated progress on Everglades restoration. Enhanced federal funding to complement years of historic state funding levels would fast-track design and construction of the Central Everglades Planning Project and the Everglades Agricultural Area Storage Reservoir to divert and clean Lake Okeechobee releases and increase water deliveries to Everglades National Park and Florida Bay. These funds would also advance important water storage and treatment infrastructure planned for the Caloosahatchee River (C-43) West Basin Storage Reservoir and Indian River Lagoon-South projects that will further reduce harmful algal bloom frequency and intensity through enhanced coastal water quality.
The critical infrastructure that will be built as a result of sustained annual budget requests to Congress of $200 million in construction funding for SFER would be a tremendous part of your legacy in Florida. We stand ready to help execute any action you take to fulfill long overdue federal commitments to restore the Everglades.
What They are Saying:
'Sustained funding for America's Everglades is tremendously important. These dollars will match funding by the state of Florida and will ultimately speed up Everglades restoration, thus bringing desperately needed relief to Florida's coastal communities while protecting the water supply of over 8 million Floridians and Florida's economic future,' said Eric Eikenberg, CEO of the Everglades Foundation.
'Everglades restoration is extremely important to Florida's fishing, boating and tourism industries. Federal funding is desperately needed to complete projects like the Everglades reservoir that would significantly reduce discharges from Lake Okeechobee and restore the flow of clean water south into the Everglades and Florida Bay,' said Executive Director of Captains For Clean Water, Daniel Andrews.
'The dire circumstances facing one of the most important ecosystems on the planet, the 8+ million Floridians who depend on them as their source of drinking water, the health of Florida's economy and the hundreds of thousands of jobs reliant on clean water requires immediate and sustained financial resources from our federal partner. We are very appreciative of Senator Rubio's, Senator Scott's and Governor DeSantis' united front in calling for them,' said Kimberly Mitchell of Everglades Trust.
'With the devastation of South Florida's blue-green algae and red tide blooms in 2018, Floridians are worrying, 'Is this our new normal?' The future of Florida's wildlife, human health, tourism industry and property values hang in the balance. Everglades restoration can help deliver relief-but only with swift investment. Florida has already committed to investing $200 million per year to Everglades restoration projects. We need an equal federal commitment to put restoration projects in the ground faster than ever before. Florida's environment is the basis of our economy and quality of life. It truly is now or neverglades,' said Julie Wraithmell, Executive Director of Audubon Florida.
'Florida's beaches, ocean, coasts and communities cannot thrive without clean water, and Florida won't have clean water without a restored Everglades. A sustained annual federal commitment of $200 million for Everglades restoration would show that the Trump Administration is taking this massive challenge as seriously as Floridians do,' said Jeff Watters, Director of Government Relations, Ocean Conservancy.
'The toxic algae blooms this past summer devastated the economy of the coastal communities of Sanibel, Captiva and Fort Myers Beach. Economic losses to these communities across all industries for just 6 months, from July to December, totaled $87 million; $46 million and $41 million respectively. These economic losses are unsustainable. We support the annual request of $200 million to match the state's annual commitment,' said Rae Ann Wessel Natural Resource Policy Director, Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation.
'Everglades restoration is so important for the continued success of the $9.6 billion sportfishing industry in Florida, the Fishing Capital of the World. With the state poised to provide record funding for this process, we strongly support Senators Rubio and Scott and Governor DeSantis' request for a consistent $200 million federal appropriation to further expedite the completion of restoration projects and ensure water quality throughout south Florida,' said Kellie Ralston, American Sportfishing Association's Southeast Fisheries Policy Director.
'Bucket-list hunting and fishing opportunities are just part of what put America's Everglades on the map. They also help to sustain billions in annual spending and job creation, but habitat destruction and harmful algal blooms threaten to diminish the beauty and draw of these iconic public lands forever,' said Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. 'That's why sportsmen and women support the need for a substantial-and dependable-investment in Everglades restoration. No one state or agency can solve these challenges alone.'
'An annual commitment of Federal funding is essential to the success of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan. Sustained funding will allow the United States Army Corps of Engineers to meet critical deadlines that will result in the water resource benefits that Floridians deserve,' said Temperince Morgan, Executive Director, The Nature Conservancy, Florida Chapter.
'Everglades restoration is at a critical juncture, with many projects on the cusp of moving forward. Florida Governor DeSantis has already signaled his strong commitment towards investing state dollars in Everglades restoration. The Administration should follow Florida's lead and increase its annual Army Corps budget request to provide the resources needed to swiftly restore this uniquely American treasure,' said Jessie Ritter, Director of Water Resources and Coastal Policy, NWF.
'The need for action to restore America's Everglades has never been more clear. The shocking recurrence of toxic blue-green algae blooms and outbreaks of red tide make citizens sick, drive away tourists and put wildlife in peril. At the same time, we are on the verge of some of the most exciting ecosystem infrastructure milestones in American history. A federal investment in the Everglades to match commitments made by the State of Florida is critical to bringing about needed change,' said Julie Hill-Gabriel, Esq., VP, Water Conservation.
'Restoration of America's Everglades is at a critical juncture and a $200 million federal investment will continue the momentum for the benefit of our national parks including Everglades, Biscayne and Big Cypress,' said Cara Capp, Everglades Restoration Program Manager for National Parks Conservation Association. 'Robust and sustained funding supports clean drinking water for eight million Floridians, the health of our national parks and the communities and local tourism and recreation economies that depend on them. We appreciate the leadership of Senators Rubio and Scott and Governor DeSantis to advance restoration efforts and look forward to working with them to make this funding a reality.'
'The Everglades are an essential part of the Florida ecosystem and we fully support efforts by Senator Rubio, Senator Scott, and Governor DeSantis to fund critical infrastructure projects aimed at increasing the southward flow of water,' said Nicole Vasilaros, Senior Vice President of Government Relations and Legal Affairs for the National Marine Manufacturers Association. 'A sustained annual commitment of $200 million in funding for Everglades restoration is not only essential to the local habitat and water quality, it is also vital to the 6,100 businesses and 92,000 jobs that the recreational boating industry supports in Florida.'