Thursday, October 04, 2012

Who will protect the Everglades ... by Debbie Harrison Rumberger

The following appeared in the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentintel.

Who will protect the Everglades?
By Debbie Harrison Rumberger
October 3, 2012

The Everglades have long suffered the human-induced impacts of diverted water flow, development, pollution and a host of other insults.
Decades of insufficient freshwater flow have disrupted seasonal water patterns, which are critical to the survival of more than 68 rare or endangered species. The restoration of America's Everglades will rescue this ecosystem and dramatically increase freshwater supply for seven million South Florida residents and the region's agricultural industry, while creating four dollars of economic benefit for every dollar invested. Restoration has already generated more than 6,600 jobs.

Candidates have historically promised to help the Everglades. But unlike so many politicians before him, President Barack Obama delivered on his promises and presided over the most productive era in Everglades restoration history.

President Obama has invested more than $1.5 billion in protecting and restoring the Everglades. His administration launched the construction of bridging Tamiami Trail – a road that cuts the Everglades in half – so that water will once again flow through the ecosystem. That was only one of four construction groundbreakings celebrated in the past four years, more than during any previous four-year period of restoration. The president reached an historic agreement with the state of Florida, requiring cleaning up the pollution in the Everglades, and he has established the Everglades Headwaters National Wildlife Refuge and Conservation Area.

Gov. Romney has not released a position statement on the Everglades, so it is difficult to predict whether his administration would maintain or stall this momentum.

While President Obama confirms his commitment to protection of the "treasured Everglades" as a priority for his administration, there is no similar language in Mr. Romney's platform. Instead, the 2012 Republican platform ominously states, "Experience has shown that, in caring for the land and water, private ownership has been our best guarantee of conscientious stewardship…" It continues, "Congress should reconsider whether parts of the federal government's enormous land holdings… could be better used for ranching, mining or forestry through private ownership."

Who will best protect our Everglades? The decision rests with you.

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