THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Vice President
VICE PRESIDENT ANNOUNCES $20 MILLION LAND ACQUISITION GRANT FOR FLORIDA
Federal-State Agreement Will Mean Purchase of 4,500 Acres For Restoration Vice President Gore today (5/28) announced a $20 million Federal
grant for land acquisition for the Everglades, marking the next major step of progress in the Administration's restoration efforts.
The Vice President made the announcement during a conference call with Florida Governor Lawton Chiles; Lieutenant Governor Buddy McKay; Frank "Sonny" Williamson, Chairman of the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD); and SFWMD Executive Director Sam Poole.
"This grant for land acquisition is an investment in the Everglades' -- and in America's -- future," the Vice President said. "Restoration of the Everglades is one of President Clinton's top environmental priorities, as well as an economic imperative for South Florida."
Today's action will double, to $40 million, the Federal funds provided to the SFWMD for acquisitions in the East Coast Water Preserve Area and Everglades Agricultural Area, providing for the purchase of 4,500 acres of land. Together with the $40 million in SFWMD matching funds, available funds now total $80 million, allowing for the purchase of about 10,000 acres of critical lands. The land acquisitions will ensure that the SFWMD can permanently protect lands critical to the environment and South Florida's water supply, promoting the fishing and recreation industries, preserving open space, and maintaining wildlife habitat.
Last February, Vice President Gore announced the Administration's Everglades program -- the most ambitious environmental restoration program in history, during a visit to the Anhinga Trail in Everglades National Park. Congress passed the central provisions of the President's Everglades program as part of the Water Resources Development Act and the President signed it into law last October. This month's balanced budget plan will help implement it.
The balanced budget agreement provides sufficient funding for the President's request for Everglades restoration, a 135 percent increase to almost $300 million for 1998. The agreement specifically protects the largest portions of the Everglades restoration program at the National Park Service and the Army Corps of Engineers, for a total of $238 million in 1998.
"If Congress follows through on the budget agreement, we will be on our way to reversing decades of decline in the Everglades," said Vice President Gore. "The effort will take many years of hard work and cooperation, but we know we are on the right track."
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