The Florida Everglades encompass thousands of square miles of South Florida real estate that are vastly important to the Sunshine State. Water flows south from Central Florida in a “River of Grass,” essentially recycling and recharging the water and providing a unique ecosystem for hundreds of different species, many of them endangered. However, the Everglades once occupied twice as many square miles as they do now, and efforts to help restore them will get a boost if the Florida Legacy bill is passed.
Proposed by Rep. Gayle Harrell of the Florida House of Representatives, the bill creates a dedicated fund to use for restoring the Florida Everglades. As written, it would deliver approximately $200 million a year to restoration projects for the Everglades. The funds for the projects will come from the Land Acquisition Trust Fund.
Some may wonder why so much money should be spent on these wetlands. There are many reasons. First and foremost, the Everglades represent a natural ecosystem of water renewal in Florida that plays hosts to many distinctive creatures. Most of the acres lost in the Everglades went to endeavors to accommodate mankind, such as agriculture. It’s the respectful and responsible thing to do to restore this unique environment. Florida Legacy bill creator, Rep. Gayle Harrell, maintained that cleaning up Lake Okeechobee and other waterways important to the Everglades system, like the St. Lucie River and the Indian River Lagoon, has been a priority for her as an elected official.
Secondly, the Everglades are important beyond their environmental value, which is immense on its own. The Everglades supply drinking water to 8 million South Floridians. It also supplies a steady stream of tourist dollars—the biggest industry in Florida—through the vacation dollars of those looking to visit the Sunshine State’s natural gems. In that same vein, bill supporters maintain that restoration projects would also provide jobs and put money into the economy. Any way you look at it, the restoration of the Everglades is a win for Florida.