WEST PALM BEACH, Florida — What seemed like a light on Florida’s ecological horizon has dimmed significantly. After years of equivocation, the state’s plan to purchase land in the Everglades from US Sugar will likely produce no change for yet another decade. In the end it may only rescue 150 square miles from cultivation.
In 2000 Congress approved a Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) estimated at $7.8 billion, but the plan — with eyes bigger than its fiscal stomach — has not been able to keep up with rising costs. To date, the federal government has only given CERP a fraction of its projected budget.
According to the AP, a forthcoming report from the National Research Council paints a discouraging future. If efforts to restore the Everglades continue to flounder, the damage done will soon be permanent. The Congressionally-mandated report chronicles a history of agricultural exploitation and water pollution within the region.
William Graf, report committee chairman, says “the Everglades ecosystem is continuing to decline. It’s our estimate that we’re losing the battle to save this thing.” Scientists involved with the study blame the dearth of federal funding as well as convoluted planning procedures for the project’s paralysis.
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Source: The Associated Press