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Will the “Legacy Bill” establish dedicated funding for the Everglades?

Will the “Legacy Bill” establish dedicated funding for the Everglades?

Rep. Gayle Harrel from Stuart is sponsoring a bill that establishes a dedicated funding source to restore the Florida Everglades.

But will it?

I asked Former Martin County Commissioner and Everglades Maven, Maggy Hurchalla and this is what she told me:

Maggy Hurchalla
Maggy Hurchalla

The Legacy bill does two things “for sure”.
One is to provide $200 million from Fl. Forever for the Everglades.
Two is to promise they will do so in the future. That promise is not binding but “It’s a step forward”

The bad parts
1. It does not mention land acquisition. It doesn’t say you can’t buy land with the money, but it is not a specified purpose.That boils down to: if they want to buy land the legislature will say it’s allowed. If the DON’T want to buy land they will say they can’t.

save our river
save our river

2. It will go to “stay the course and finish ongoing projects” . That’s what the SFWMD and the Governor and the Economic Council said we must do. They haven’t changed their mind.
$100 million a year will go to “implement the science based Restoration Strategies Plan.” That means that for 8 years $100 million a year will go to meet the Governor’s $800 million commitment to the Federal Court to build more STAs to meet runoff criteria. That’s the lawsuit Lawton Childs settled in 1992. After 2000 Jeb Bush went back to court. Scott settled with the feds early in his first term and well before Amendment 1 was passed. It is NOT part of CERP
$100 million will go toward construction of CERP projects, primarily the C43 and C44 reservoirs. They are necessary parts of CERP. They will not send the water south. The C44 reservoir will reduce damaging discharges to the estuary by 8%.

David Cross protesting the discharges photo: cyndi lenz
David Cross protesting the discharges
photo: cyndi lenz

3. It will rip off Amendment 1 money without any commitment to land acquisition anywhere in the state.

The River folks here (including me) are taking the position that:
It is a nice first step. It does nothing by itself.
To make a difference there has to be
1. a commitment to put $300 million into Florida Forever for statewide land acquisition
2. Immediate action by the Corps and the District to identify the land needed to send the water south
3. A commitment to spend Legacy set asides to buy the land as soon as it is identified.

Without those three things Legacy Florida is a fig leaf to make Republicans look good in an election year.

Thank you Maggy for keeping this discussion 100% real. Let’s hope our legislators can do the same thing.

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