Everglades land deal deadline
Photo: Video by fox4now.com
CREATED Aug. 27, 2013
FORT MYERS, Fla.- Water quality experts and environmentalists are saying it's our last best best hope.
A deal to buy US Sugar farm land south of Lake Okeechobee will expire in October.
Its a one billion dollar deal, and the governor has the first right of refusal.
The Department of Environmental Protection could sign off on the option to buy the entire field operation, all 187,000 acres.
If the deal isn't done in the next 8 weeks, US Sugar can demand a higher price.
Ray Judah with the Florida Ocean and Coastal Coalition says "theres no question the price of this land is going to escalate... so it behooves the state to pursue the closing of this option."
State representative Matt Caldwell isn't convinced that buying u-s sugar lands would solve all our problems.
Instead, he wants to purchase land north of the lake.
Caldwell said "why not look at buying.. you know.. what would probably be much less expensive ranch land, to keep the water up there in the first place."
Judah explains that just doesn't make sense either economically or environmentally.
The US Sugar deal would cost one billion and would allow the lake "O" release water to flow onto these fields.
But the entire everglades restoration project, a series of artificial reservoirs, canals and pump stations to keep the US Sugar farm lands safe, would cost about 16 billion dollars.
For Judah, simple is better. He explained "that would allow the state to do what is really necessary and thats to restore the historic floway- to have the water flow back again to the Everglades National Park and the Florida Everglades."