The Obama administration on Friday proposed protecting a vast mosaic of wilderness, streams, lakes and ranchlands north of Lake Okeechobee. The initiative is intended to guard the water sources of the Everglades and prevent development in a landscape that recalls a Florida before Disney, condominiums and interstate highways.The $700 million proposal — which lacks specifics on funding and the exact locations of land to be protected — calls for buying about 50,000 acres for a new national wildlife refuge and protecting another 100,000 acres through agreements with landowners and other means.The proposal describes the areas as "one of the great grassland and savanna landscapes of eastern North America," providing habitat for the Florida panther, black bear, Florida scrub-jay, Everglades snail kite, red-cockaded woodpecker and many other species.The region also serves as the headwaters for the Florida Everglades, gathering water that flows slowly south through the Everglades to the coast. Among the Everglades' knottiest problems is the pollution washing off farms and cities from fertilizers, particularly phosphorus.
Sunday, January 9, 2011
From David Fleshler and Andy Reid of the Sun-Sentinel on Jan. 7: