THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Vice President
VICE PRESIDENT ANNOUNCES HISTORIC ACQUISITION OF EVERGLADES LAND
On 50th Anniversary of Park, Government to Acquire 50,000 Acres
EVERGLADES NATIONAL PARK -- In one of the most significant developments in the last half century to restore the Everglades, Vice President Gore today (12/6), announced that the federal government and the state of Florida will acquire more than 50,000 acres to help protect and preserve the Everglades.
"President Clinton and I are committed to revitalizing the Everglades," said the Vice President at the Everglades National Park 50th Anniversary Rededication Ceremony -- the same site where President Harry Truman first dedicated Everglades National Park in 1947. "We must restore this land for all our people. That is why I am so proud to announce today the acquisition of land in the Everglades Agricultural Area totaling more than 50,000 acres. This is truly an historic and significant development in helping to restore the Everglades."
The Vice President was joined at the event by Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Carol Browner, National Park Service Director Robert Stanton, Florida Governor Lawton Chiles, Lieutenant Governor Buddy McKay, U.S. Senator Bob Graham, Congressman Clay Shaw and other state and local officials.
Specifically, the Vice President announced that the Clinton Administration, the state of Florida, and the South Florida Water Management District have reached an agreement, in concept, to acquire the entire Talisman Sugar Plantation in the Everglades Agricultural Area -- more than 50,000 acres. In addition, the St. Joe Corporation, which owns the Talisman Sugar Plantation, has pledged to donate an additional 3,000 acres of their property to conservation organizations for use in Everglades restoration.
In February 1996, the Vice President announced the Everglades Restoration Plan, an aggressive $1.5 billion program to restore the Florida Everglades and the South Florida ecosystem. The program outlines several crucial areas for action, including restoring and protecting the ecosystem, expanding partnership with the people of Florida, supporting cost-sharing for infrastructure improvements, and relying on the best science available.
The Vice President's commitment to revitalizing the Everglades was honored today when he received the Earnest F. Coe award. The award is presented by the National Park Service annually to recognize an individual, group, or agency that has done the most in the past year to protect Everglades National Park.
"President Truman came here not only to behold the wonders of the Everglades, but also to preserve them for future generations. Fifty years later, we come here not only to rededicate this park, but also to rededicate ourselves to the promises made by those who came before us and to protect our most precious natural resources," the Vice President said.
The Vice President said that 1.3 million acres of the Everglades will be dedicated as the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Wilderness Area, in honor of the author of the book Everglades; River of Grass, which 50 years ago, when it was published, inspired national interest in preserving the Everglades.
After the rededication ceremony, the Vice President toured the Chokoloskee Bay Waterway, a mangrove forest ecosystem of the Ten Thousand Islands area of Everglades National Park.
Everglades National Park was the first national park created specifically to protect a threatened ecological system. It is the largest remaining subtropical wilderness in the United States, and one of the nation's greatest natural resources.