Vice President Joe Biden toured Everglades National Park on Monday with Sen. Bill Nelson in an appearance that mixed politics with preservation.
After touring the "river of grass" by airboat, the vice president made an appearance with the senator, who is up for re-election this fall, and touted the Obama administration's efforts to move forward the massive, and expensive, restoration of the Everglades.
More than a decade ago the Clinton administration promised to embark on an expansive, and expensive, plan to restore the Everglades. That project was seen as a way to restore, preserve, and protect the South Florida ecosystem while providing for other water-related needs of the region, including water supply and flood protection. With an estimated total cost of $10.7 billion to the federal government and $11.8 billion to the state of Florida, the initiative is the largest hydrologic restoration project in U.S. history.
“We are thrilled to welcome Vice President Biden to the Everglades and applaud the administration’s leadership for restoring America’s Everglades," said Dawn Shirreffs, the Everglades Restoration program manager for the National Parks Conservation Association. "We have seen unprecedented progress for Everglades restoration over the last three years. Construction of a one-mile bridge is already under way, and we must continue this momentum, by funding the 5.5 miles of additional bridging for Tamiami Trail recently authorized by Congress.
"Elevating Tamiami Trail is vital to protect critical habitat, restore historic water flows into Everglades National Park and ensure America’s Everglades is a legacy preserved for future generations," she said in a prepared statement. “America’s Everglades is one of the world’s most diverse and productive wetlands and is a tremendous economic generator for the state. Everglades restoration is a sound investment for this Administration to make."