Florida to Buy Back Wetlands from U.S. Sugar


photo by Bill Swindaman

Kenya may be set to destroy its wetlands to cultivate sugar for biofuels, but Florida is moving in the opposite direction.

Sugar Plantations to Be Bought for Wetland Restoration
The state of Florida announced today that it will spend $1.75 billion to buy up 300 square miles of Everglades from U.S. Sugar Corp. and restore the wetlands to its natural state. The restoration is only theoretical at this point however, as currently the deal only exists as a statement of principles, the final details of the agreement to be worked out within 75 days.As a result of the deal, U.S. Sugar—the nation's largest producer of cane sugar—will be allowed to continue farming the 187,000 acres land for six more years before going out of business. Sugar production will continue in the region however, with 250,000 acres under cultivation by other companies.

As Monumental As Yellowstone
According to Florida Governor Charlie Crist the deal is "as monumental as the creation of our first national park, Yellowstone ... [and] represents, if we're successful, and I believe we will be, the largest conservation purchase in the history of the state of Florida."

It is estimated that more than 35% of the original Everglades area has been converted to agriculture or has been starved of water because of irrigation for sugar cane, vegetable farms and citrus groves.

via :: Reuters and :: Florida Today
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