TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Everglades advocates have started to roll out television, radio and Internet ads pressing the state to buy thousands of acres of land in the name of Everglades restoration. Florida signed a deal in 2010 with U.S. Sugar and the clock is ticking.
Insiders expect the U.S. Sugar to respond in the coming weeks, and environmentalists are making a full court press, making attempts to get the governor and the legislature to buy in to a land deal before time runs out this year.
The legislature has until the end of the 2015 session to act on buying the land. If not, the contract would expire.
The purchase would cost around $350 million. The campaign said the state can use Amendment 1 money to buy the land. Advocate Will Abberger said that's what it's meant to do anyway.
"It is a water and land conservation amendment, so we're talking about using land conservation as a tool to protect water at its source and keep pollution out of those water bodies by buying the land around them," Abberger said.
The proposal focuses on the area around Lake Okeechobee to get water to flow further south in the state.
"Clearly Amendment 1 specifically talked about providing funding for everglades restoration," Abberger said.
How to deal with water is expected to be one of the prominent issues for the next two months as the legislative session plays out..