Conservation advocates Everglades Florida, in a statement issued by CEO Eric Eikenberg on Friday, applauds the record state budget of more than $77 billion, which lawmakers expect to approve on Friday.
In addition to more money for the Everglades, lawmakers set aside another $90 million for construction of 2.6 miles of bridges for Tamiami Trail – that will increase the flow of water into Everglades National Park and Florida Bay.
“This historic commitment of $259 million is a critical investment in our economy and environment,” Eikenberg said. “In addition to creating and maintaining Florida jobs, this appropriation recognizes the need to protect our rivers and estuaries, America’s Everglades, and the water supply of nearly 8 million Floridians and millions of visitors.
Eikenberg notes that the new funding is double the previous year’s levels for water quality improvements and restoration.
Singling out several key legislative leaders, Eikenberg congratulated Senate President Don Gaetz, House Speaker Will Weatherford, Senate Appropriations Chair Joe Negron, and House Appropriations Chair Seth McKeel for the “strong leadership and a deep understanding” of the critical issue of Everglades conservation. He thanked them for listening to the people living and working along the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie Rivers who suffered economic hardship because of polluted water dumped from Lake Okeechobee last year.
“We look forward to Gov. Rick Scott signing this budget and applaud him for his continuing leadership,” Eikenberg said. “Gov. Scott and this Legislature have set a pace that brings us significantly closer to the moment when Floridians can proudly say we have restored America’s Everglades.”