For the last many months, the Monroe County Board of County Commissioners have been slogging through the gritty details of Everglades Restoration. It really is a slog and the details really are gritty.
They definitely did their homework. A number of the Commissioners and staff member Lisa Tennyson actually went out on the water to see the 'dead zone' with Captain Xavier Figueredo from the Bay and Reef Company in June. They were regaled with information overload from (at least) The Everglades Foundation, the South Florida Water Management District, the Department of Environmental Protection, and county staff.
Every 'expert' took the opportunity to give their side of the story on how to best "fix" the problem of not enough fresh water in the Bay.
The Final Doc
The staff molded a document that urged expediting a laundry list of important projects to be completed including CERP, CEPP, preCEPP, acquiring all lands that would complete CERP and CEPP, and MFLs. It's totally comprehensive.
They concluded with these whereas clauses for their lobbyists:
"1. The Monroe County federal and state lobbying teams are instructed by the passage of this resolution to advocate for an immediate MFL recovery strategy, full funding and completion of Modified Water Deliveries, C-111 Spreader Canal Western and the C-111 projects, and the expedited authorization of, and appropriation for CEPP, completion of CERP, and all operational measures that will restore and enhance water flow into the Florida Bay; and
2. The Monroe County federal and state lobbying teams are instructed by the passage of this resolution to advocate for acquisition of all lands in the EAA south of Lake Okeechobee, the Kissimmee, Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie River basins, and system-wide, which are determined to be necessary for the implementation of authorized CERP and CEPP projects; and"
The Commissioners deserve credit for wading through so many drafts to get this one in the books. During the meeting, they said they were exhausted, they said they had tweaked their Resolution as much as they were going to tweak it. They were "done."
They were ready to put this Resolution to bed, and they were less than receptive to our suggestion to prioritize the purchase of EAA lands south of the Lake NOW before this vital option expires. You can watch the meeting online.
So is it a Good Resolution for Monroe County?
The Resolution is a start.
Florida Bay Forever would have liked it to specifically prioritize land purchase in the EAA south of the Lake to create storage reservoirs to bring fresh water south to the Bay; the one specific item essential to protecting Florida Bay and Monroe County.
We would have liked clear direction to be given to the county lobbyists so they know which part of, "all operational measures that will restore and enhance water flow to the Florida Bay" they will work on first, It would be far easier to lobby for the projects that are in the ground and on the way to completion than the harder ones like initiating land purchases. Low hanging fruit always seems riper for picking.
Rather than asking our lobbyists to advocate for lands south of Lake Okeechobee AND in the Kissimmee, AND the St. Lucie, AND the Caloosahatchee river basins, we would like to see specific direction on advocating for land that will actually help the Bay.
Are we Asking for too Much?
We would love to know what you think.
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