ERICA FISH, Public Policy Intern
For decades, tourism and continuous growth have threatened the outdoors. But that doesn’t need to be the case. Eikenberg said development and the environment can co-exist when considering the sensitivities of these lands to stabilize the future of Florida’s wilderness and water resources.
“We need to take into account the Everglades, Florida’s population and the state’s growth as a collective influence for this restoration project,” he said.
Founded in 1993, the Everglades Foundation works to bring people together and provide a voice for Everglades restoration at the state and national level. The organization has played pivotal role in advancing several Everglades restoration projects.
Authorized by Congress in 2000, the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) aims to restore, preserve and protect the Everglades. At a cost of more than $10.5 billion and a more than 30 year timeline, the restoration project is one of largest hydrologic restoration projects undertaken in the United States.
Twenty-years in, Eikenberg said it’s imperative to finish the projects outlined by CERP and begin the shift toward protection.
“This is our last decade to get to restoration,” he said. “Then we pivot to perpetual protection.”
Eikenberg also used the event as a chance to provide an update on the Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manuel (LOSOM), which the Army Corps of Engineers have been in the process of updating. The Army Corps of Engineers is expected to announce the final in mid-November.
A natural treasure, Eikenberg encouraged business leaders to advocate for Everglades restoration and other water quality projects.
“The Everglades compromises beautiful landscapes above and below the water. Some 67 threatened and endangered species who call this home. Water flows through this system, since that’s how nature intends water to flow,” said Eikenberg.