Listen to the Session:
Experts at a wildlife and natural resources session during the Society of Environmental Journalists conference Saturday morning said they believe that, with a sturdy budget and agenda, progress can be made in restoration of the Florida Everglades.
With the economy of the United States in difficulty for some time, this is a tough fix.
But it is making the money you have work towards something productive that can be make that fix less complex, the panel experts agreed.
According to Dexter Lehtinen, former U.S. Attorney in Miami and former Miccosukee Indian tribe counsel, there are a few problems with the Everglades restoration projects. These projects have much thought and planning, but many times the programs are not put into action.
“There are valid visions and it’s the valid vision that got in the way of actually carrying out the planning,” said Lehtinen. “The problem is that if we ever get around to the vision it will be after phosphorous intrusion is too hard to reverse.”
The lack of progress has been attributed to Florida’s new governor, Rick Scott.
“Looking at the governor’s policies in the first six months, most would be pretty alarmed,” said Kirk Fordham, chief executive officer, Everglades Foundation. With pressure to make the Everglades and its inhabitants better protected, the governor has “since replaced the old staff and improved,” said Fordham.
Shannon Estenoz, director of Everglades Restoration Initiatives for the U.S. Department of the Interior, thinks the governor’s new team of staff is very knowledgeable with lots of experience, which will in turn help the Everglades restoration in future years.
“We need to focus and prioritize. Over the last 10 years, research has been focused on the outer Everglades and the next 10 years should be focused on the river of grass itself, the inner banks,” said Estenoz.