Saving the River of Grass
Just about from the time whites arrived in Florida, they've been trying to alter the "river of grass," as the Everglades is perhaps best known. There have been efforts to drain it, to alter its course, to turn the swamp into "profitable" land. The latest chapter of humankind's involvement with this intricate landscape, of course, has focused on saving the Everglades from ... humans.
During its 22nd annual conference this past weekend the Everglades Coalition released its 2007 "restoration essentials and action agenda," a two-page list of projects the coalition believes state and federal officials must get behind to move forward the $11 billion Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan that Congress adopted six years ago and which has shuttled along in fits and starts.
This to-do list calls for an array of projects that ranges from preserving water flows and removing artificial barriers to halting pollution and being prudent with development.
Can it succeed?
The Miami Herald is optimistic, even though Florida's governor is no longer named "Bush." In fact, the newspaper cites a number of reasons why it believes Gov. Charlie Crist will be more successful than his predecessor in moving CERP along.
"Even though Gov. Bush had clout in Washington, given his connection to the White House, his stand-alone way of handling the state's share of restoration alienated members of Congress, which holds the purse strings to make CERP succeed. When the state in 2003 changed water-quality standards that critics say pushed back a water cleanup deadline by 10 years, CERP supporters in Congress got angry, for example. Now there is hope that, under a Republican governor more accustomed to working with the other party, amends will be made with the new Democratic-led Congress," the Herald opined yesterday.
"Under Gov. Bush the state fought to end oversight of the cleanup by a federal judge. Judicial oversight is the result of a state settlement to end a federal lawsuit that charged Florida with polluting the Everglades. Gov. Crist should cancel the attempt to end the judge's oversight. It's essential that a neutral entity with the judicial power to make both cleanup partners do their promised share remain in place."