With federal appropriations season fully underway, nearly a dozen boating and fishing organizations recently wrote to Senate appropriators and encouraged lawmakers to continue the long-time support for the protection and restoration of America’s Everglades by providing robust funding for the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP). Everglades restoration is a top NMMA advocacy priority and the association played a leading role in drafting the letter.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has made great strides towards restoring Florida’s ecosystems, but additional support and funding is necessary to continue their work improving water quality and, in turn, the health of the Everglades. Boating and angling stakeholders requested the Subcommittee on Energy and Water to fund the South Florida Ecosystems Restoration at $200 million for construction and $10 million for operations and maintenance in FY20. This funding level is essential reducing toxic discharges from Lake Okeechobee into Florida’s waterways and to protect the livelihood of anglers, guides, boat captains, and retailers that rely upon Florida’s vibrant fisheries and coastal waterways.
Some of the Everglades most iconic and essential projects fall under CERP. Projects such as the Picayune Strand Restoration, Indian River Lagoon-South, the Broward County Water Preserve Area, and the Biscayne Bay Coastal Wetlands will all be supported through the subcommittee’s investment in South Florida Ecosystem Restoration.
The group also requested the Subcommittee on Interior to include three critical authorizations, including:
- $700 million within the Department of the Interior in support of ongoing projects to improve water quality and waterway health;
- $3.2 million in the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) South Florida Geographic Program – which is essential to ensuring clean water flows through Everglades National Park; and
- $700,000 to each of the EPA’s National Estuary Program’s (NEP) and an additional $1.5 million for the NEP competitive program.
Florida has already pledged $260 million in 2019 to prioritize Everglades restoration projects. Paired with renewed federal investments, these critical initiatives can be realized and the unique ecosystem of the Everglades – the beating heart of the largest fishing economy in the country – can be restored and protected for generations to come.