Everglades Trust Ramps Up Push to Buy U.S. Sugar Land

Randall Weiseman Ag "Outdoors", Forestry, Industry News Release, Sugar


Proponents of the state using voter-approved Amendment 1 dollars to purchase U.S. Sugar land south of Lake Okeechobee said Friday they will continue to press lawmakers who haven’t shown interest in completing the deal.

“They’ve been resistant to doing the will of the people, so that’s why we’re in this campaign mode, to try and see if we can’t change their minds,” Everglades Trust President Mary Barley said during a conference call.

The call with the media came as the advocacy group this week rolled out what it says is a six-figure TV, radio and online campaign in support of the sugar land purchase. The trust views the deal as the only option immediately available to send and store water from Lake Okeechobee south through the Everglades.

The voter-approved constitutional amendment is expected to generate about $757 million this year for land and water maintenance and preservation — up from around $470 million in the current budget year. Lawmakers will have to divvy up the money during the 60-day regular session that begins Tuesday.

The Everglades Trust wants lawmakers to designate about $350 million to purchase 46,800 acres, of which 26,100 acres would be used for construction of the Everglades Agricultural Area reservoir. The state has to exercise the deal by Oct. 12 or Florida would have to buy an additional 157,000 acres to get land for the reservoir.