Gov. Rick Scott announced on Tuesday a plan to dedicate $5 billion for Everglades restoration over the next 20 years. He also proposed another $150 million for land acquisition and management to help protect the Florida panther.
The proposed amount will be included in the governor's budget recommendations that he'll be submitting later this week to the Florida Legislature.
Part of that will also include the restoration of the Kissimmee River and the building of two reservoirs that will provide more than 100 billion gallons of storage to protect estuaries from polluted waters discharged by Lake Okeechobee.
"Florida has an abundance of natural resources that help create a foundation for our growing economy, whether it is driving our state's tourism industry or providing a great quality of life that has attracted families to our state for generations," Scott said in a statement announcing the proposal. "During my first term, we made historic investments in our springs and Everglades, and I am proud to continue to make important investments in our environment this year. We will keep working to make sure we preserve our natural treasures so Florida can continue to be a top destination for families, visitors, and businesses."
It's a bold move for Scott, who hasn't been all that friendly to Florida's environment throughout his first term, despite what he says.
It's been well-documented that Scott's administration has been a detriment to Florida's waters and that it has hamstrung the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. Scott even appointed a man who was responsible for screwing up the Everglades to be in charge of protecting the Everglades.
He was even attacked by other states for his putrid environmental record.
But toward the end of his first term, Scott announced the approval of the acquisition of more than 1,275 acres to protect environmentally sensitive areas throughout the state.
And during his campaign for reelection, Scott also pledged hundreds of millions of dollars on environmental programs.
Among the campaign promises were a $500 million pledge for springs restoration and another $500 million to help create alternative water supplies. He also said he'd spend $150 million a year for Florida Forever, the state's environmental and conservation land-buying programs that purchased the aforementioned 1,275 acres of environmentally sensitive land.
It's all good news for the environment and a far cry from a governor who spent his first administration gutting Florida's environmental protection programs and who has received big donations from FPL.
So, the dedication of tens of millions to helping the Everglades is a good start.
If passed by the Legislature, the $150 million will go toward Everglades restoration beginning this year.