Letters to the Editor

Putnam has helped natural Florida

Re Kimberly Mitchell’s Feb. 17 opinion piece, With Big Sugar’s backing, Putnam not so sweet on clean-water solution”: Over the course of my career, I have had the opportunity to work with many environmental leaders from across the United States, and few have Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam’s proven record of environmental leadership.

As a congressman and member of the Everglades Caucus, he helped secure funding for the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP); Putnam was integral to the 2016 establishment of the state’s first comprehensive water policy in decades; the conservation of critical lands through the establishment of two new state forests (and a program for veterans to experience the land) and the preservation of nearly 30,000 acres of land through the Rural and Family Lands Protection program.

He has worked with the Florida Legislature to develop and implement a comprehensive water policy that was based on sound science and would prioritize the projects that could yield the greatest measurable improvements in the areas that needed them most. This effort was not easy, and it failed to pass on the first vote.

In 2016, however, working with stakeholders to build consensus and dedicate the funds that were needed to support the policy. The bill works to fulfill future water supply needs and also protects and restores Florida’s iconic springs. This effort has earned the praise of many environmental organizations, including the Everglades Foundation, Audubon Florida and The Nature Conservancy.

When his term is over, Putnam will be leaving some of Florida’s most environmentally sensitive lands more protected than when he found them. His environmental record speaks for itself: Floridians have benefited from Putnam’s leadership on the environment.

Melissa Meeker, CFO, Water Environment & Reuse Foundation, Alexandria, Va.