'America’s Everglades: Our Legacy, Our Future' conference aimed at identifying restoration progress and challenges moving forward
Coral Gables, Fla. – This year’s 28th annual Everglades Coalition Conference (#EVCO2013), today and through the weekend, will share its vision and priorities for continuing strong support for Everglades restoration efforts in 2013. The Coalition brings together business leaders, elected officials, including members of the recently reinvigorated Congressional Everglades Caucus, and community and environmental advocates to discuss the many opportunities and challenges facing the largest wetland restoration project on the planet.
America’s Everglades is recognized as one of the world’s unique and spectacular natural wonders. The past several years yielded significant progress for restoration efforts including, the congressional authorization of additional bridging along Tamiami Trail, a historic water quality plan that provides an achievable path forward for reducing pollution entering and degrading the Everglades ecosystem, and the legislative passage of a statewide annual Everglades Day, which will be recognized on April 7 each year.
“We have seen more on-the-ground restoration in the last four years than in the previous two decades and applaud President Obama and his administration for their leadership,” said Dawn Shirreffs, national co-chair for the Everglades Coalition.” Elevating Tamiami Trail is vital to restoration efforts and will protect critical habitat and restore historic water flows back into Everglades National Park. The additional 5.5 miles of Tamiami Trail bridging and authorization of the Central Everglades Planning Project are critical to restoring this treasured place.”
Over the last four years, Everglades restoration projects have generated 10,500 jobs in Florida with more than 442,000 jobs expected to be created over the next several decades in tourism, real estate and commercial and recreational fishing industries. More than 10 years after the original Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan was adopted by Congress, Everglades restoration projects are well under way and Floridians are reaping the benefits. Everglades restoration is a critical element of combating climate change and sea level rise in South Florida and for every $1 invested in Everglades restoration, $4 is generated in economic benefits to the surrounding communities.
“A sustained fiscal and political commitment from our state and federal partners is essential for advancing Everglades restoration, including securing the passage of a Water Resource Development Act in 2013,” said Jennifer Hecker, state co-chair for the Everglades Coalition. “Without continued timely authorizations and appropriations of funding, we will be unable to maintain our momentum for restoration efforts needed to reverse the ecological degradation that is threatening wildlife, our water supply, and South Florida economies that depend on this iconic natural resource.”
The Everglades Coalition collectively agrees that:
• The restoration, protection and enhancement of the Greater Everglades Ecosystem is essential for protecting a national treasure as well as Florida’s economy and water supply.
• Supporting and providing education and public understanding regarding all aspects of the Everglades Ecosystem is essential to protecting the Everglades.
• Sponsoring research that supports the protection, restoration and enhancement of the Everglades Ecosystem is vital to efficient use of public dollars in maximizing effectiveness of restoration efforts.
• Facilitating the coordination of information resources, strategies and efforts among Everglades Coalition members will create an informed and engaged constituency for supporting Everglades restoration efforts.
“Governor Rick Scott’s support of the Water Quality Plan is recognition of the vital and strategic importance of Everglades restoration,” said Eric Eikenberg, Everglades Foundation CEO. “America’s Everglades provides drinking water for more than seven million Floridians and is a critical driver of our state’s economy. We look forward to working with the Governor on the critical issues facing America’s Everglades.”
This year’s conference theme is America’s Everglades: Our Legacy, Our Future and the event is hosted by the Everglades Foundation. Participants for this year’s 28th annual conference include: Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, Congressman Joe Garcia, Congressman Patrick Murphy, Florida Governor Rick Scott, former U.S. Senator Bob Graham and many others.
About the Everglades Coalition
The Everglades Coalition Conference is the largest annual forum for Everglades conservation and restoration, bringing together the Coalition’s 57 allied organizations with local, state and federal partners. For additional information, please visit our website at: www.evergladescoalition.org.
About National Parks Conservation Association
Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its more than one million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s natural, historical, and cultural heritage for future generations. For more information, visit www.npca.org.
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