Although they are talking a good game, and are obviously doing some political work behind the scenes, CCA Florida continues to miss the mark on fixing the water crisis in South Florida. Their most recent statement touting that funding for the Central Everglades Plan (CEP) is being considered by Congress in Washington, DC is at first glance a good thing. After all, any funds that can be put toward Everglades Restoration should be helpful. But the CEP is not going to help the St. Lucie River, the Caloosahatchee River, and not do much for Florida Bay. Why? Because it does nothing to address the urgent need to purchase the land south of Lake Okeechobee. Is CEP beneficial in the long run, as part of the big, long-term approach to Everglades Restoration? Yes. But compared to buying the land south of Lake Okeechobee, which will much more beneficial in the short- and long-term, the CEP is a second level priority.
The worry here is that CCA Florida is less interested in restoring the Everglades (which starts with buying the land south of Lake O), and more interested in playing the backroom-deal game. The touted CEP funding route is the same sloooooow burn that has been used to put off Everglades Restoration for decades. Always a promise around the next corner, the next fiscal year. And more of a concern – a distraction from buying the land south of Lake O.
The situation in South Florida is at a crisis point because of the lack of attention and funding to true Everglades Restoration (see slow burn, above), which depends upon purchasing the land south of Lake O. The longer it takes to buy the land, the less chances we have for success with restoration.
CCA has jumped on the wrong bandwagon when it comes to Everglades Restoration, one that is on the old road that has brought us to this crisis point. It’s extremely clear that the old way of doing things has not worked and will not work moving forward. A new approach is needed. CCA needs to get with the program that will give Florida’s fisheries their best chance at a positive future, not stick with the good-old-boy network that brought us down to where we are now and don’t hold the health of Florida’s fisheries in high regard.