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Florida Governor Recommends Lake and Estuary Cleanup

Florida’s Governor Charlie Crist is recommending that the State of Florida allocate $190 million to clean up the Florida Everglades, Lake Okeechobee and the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie estuaries.

In February he toured portions of the St. Lucie River and Estuary, joined by Florida Senate President Ken Pruitt, Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Michael W. Sole and South Florida Water Management District Executive Director Carol Ann Wehle.

Together with the Florida legislature, Crist is making the restoration of the South Florida ecosystem an environmental priority.

“The health of Lake Okeechobee and the coastal estuaries is of great importance to Florida’s economy and quality of life,” said Governor Crist. “I believe we have a unique opportunity to bring about long-term protection for the northern Everglades, and I look forward to partnering with the legislature to accomplish this historic goal.”

Governor Crist’s proposed budget includes $100 million for the Save Our Everglades Trust Fund, $50 million for the restoration of Lake Okeechobee and $40 million to improve the health of the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie estuaries.

“The Florida legislature is taking a close look at the rehabilitation and restoration of the northern Everglades and estuaries,” said Senator Pruitt. “As elected officials, we have a responsibility to the people of Florida to develop a comprehensive solution for preserving the lake and coastal estuaries for future generations.”

Additionally, the Florida legislature has introduced legislation that would create a plan for restoring the northern Everglades, including the coastal estuaries. The Northern Everglades and Estuaries Protection Program would direct the Department of Environmental Protection, South Florida Water Management District and Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to put best farming practices into effect, to acquire land, and construct treatment and water storage facilities north of Lake Okeechobee. The facilities would reduce pollutant loads to the lake and estuaries.

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