Community Conversations

There’s money to protect Florida’s environment. How should lawmakers spend it?

A white heron walks through the tall grass at Everglades National Park on, Tuesday, October 1, 2013. Readers on the Public Insight Network want more funds devoted to preserving the Everglades.
A white heron walks through the tall grass at Everglades National Park on, Tuesday, October 1, 2013. Readers on the Public Insight Network want more funds devoted to preserving the Everglades. MIAMI HERALD STAFF

We asked the following question on MiamiHerald.com last week: How should lawmakers decide which environmental projects to invest in first? Thanks for all of your responses. Below are some of your comments, some of which were edited for length and clarity. Learn more about the Public Insight Network at MiamiHerald.com/insight, and check back next week for another conversation.

“This money needs to go to purchase land like the Ludlam Trail. We need more ‘remnant’ areas around the county that can be used to increase native plant/ wildlife and recreation areas. Much of this new money will come from Miami-Dade — so it needs to be spent within the county to protect open areas, and encourage more vertical development.”

Kathleen Sealey, Miami

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“I believe that this year the Legislature should fund Dade County’s land purchasing program, the Environmentally Endangered Lands Program (EEL) and fully fund Florida Forever. Miami is considered one of the most vulnerable areas to sea level rise due to its low-lying topography, porous soils and extensive coastal infrastructure. EEL lands provide critical protection against saltwater intrusion, aquifer recharge and wellfield protection, carbon sequestration, protected species and habitat conservation. Moreover, the EEL acquisition project areas include lands that are within the boundaries of identified regional ecosystem restoration projects and continuing acquisition of those lands help provide options to adapt to sea level rise.

“Restoration of America’s Everglades relies on the ability to purchase conservation land. Funding Florida Forever is crucial to restoring this important ecosystem key to the prosperity of the State and the well being of its residents. A healthy Everglades makes for a healthy fishing and tourism industry, key of our economic success, as well as provide crucial floodwater protection and saltwater intrusion in the face of rising sea levels, and water supply to about 8 million people in the state of Florida.”

Celeste De Palma, North Miami Beach

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“What I find amazing is the complete lack of emphasis and focus on our water supply, namely the Biscayne Aquifer. While there has been some measure of resistance against efforts by developers to further urban sprawl beyond the Urban Development Boundary in the Everglades, the silence by law makers (both at a local and state level), as well as the media remains deafening with regards to the threat our water supply faces. The other factor no one seems to want to address is due to our history of urban sprawl in our wetlands over the last few decades, the static water pressure of the aquifer has been significantly reduced to a proverbial trickle of its former self. And to the extent we get hit by a major hurricane, (which we are long-overdue for), one which happens to coincide with a high tide, we are looking at a very real nightmare in the making, with near certain saltwater intrusion into the aquifer, compromising our only viable freshwater source. Tapping into Okeechobee will not be an option.

Kent Bonde, Miami Shores

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“Stop expanding construction into the Everglades! It’s especially bad here in Miami how politicians want to expand into the swamp lands. Manatees are migrating into places where they can be hurt in search of food. Florida and local municipalities should come up with stricter laws to protect the environment first because no amount of money will fix the environment if the laws are too lax.”

Dhavynia Anduray, Miami

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“Priority should be placed on controlling the encroachment of development on the Everglades both for clean water and green space concerns. Acquiring land to help restore historical water flows through the Everglades is the most important part of any state environmental policy.”

Todd Britt, Miami

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“Build at least one desalination plant to convert salt water to potable water. This will allow us to take less fresh water from our aquifer to allow natural forces to prevent saltwater intrusion into our water table. If we reduce the amount of water taken from the aquifer, it will allow it to heal itself.”

John Turman, Miami Springs

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“Our economy in Southeast Florida is built upon the water; real estate, recreation, tourism, marine — itself an $11 billion industry — all depend on the quality and accessibility of our ocean, rivers and the Intracoastal Waterway. The amount of trash in the waterways is appalling, the quality needs to be maintained both visually and for consumption and we need to be aware of waste disposal.”

Marilyn DeMartini, Fort Lauderdale

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“Lawmakers should allocate funds to continue the Florida Forever land acquisition process to preserve natural lands and resources, and areas of historical importance. Funds should also be allocated for beach restoration using a method which determines beaches with the greatest needs and most economic impact. Purchase of lands necessary to reestablish the natural flow of the Everglades. Protecting springs and fresh water sources should be a priority. Funds should also be allocated to preserve and protect habitats off the coast of Florida such as coral reefs and seagrasses.”

Seth Platt, Fort Lauderdale

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