Good news for Florida's Everglades
A Florida regional water board on Tuesday approved a $1.34 billion agreement to buy 180,000 acres of land from U.S. Sugar Corp, a deal regarded as critical to the restoration of Florida's fragile Everglades wetland.In a press release from U.S. Sugar Corp., Coker said, “Governor Crist not only had the vision to take this bold step toward true Everglades restoration, but he and the South Florida Water Management District Governing Board had the courage to actually make it happen.”
The South Florida Water Management District board of directors voted 4-3 to accept the landmark deal but amended it with an extra financial safeguard that put the contract "back in U.S. Sugar Corporation's court," district spokesman Randy Smith said.
However, in a statement issued late on Tuesday, U.S. Sugar hailed the vote and called the amendment "non-material."
"This is a monumental opportunity to save the Everglades, and after many months of negotiations, we can now move forward," Senior Vice President Robert Coker said.
The state of Florida first announced in June that it had struck a $1.75 billion deal to buy all of U.S. Sugar Corp, one of the nation's largest privately held agriculture firms.
But in November state officials said they had scaled back the agreement and would buy only 181,000 acres of land which are considered critical to the restoration of the Everglades.