MIAMI – Late last night, further details emerged on the Administration's 2020 budget request for restoring America’s Everglades. Disappointingly, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ 2020 Everglades budget proposal includes an anemic $63 million for construction, representing a 40 percent deep cut from 2019 enacted funding levels. Audubon Florida Director of Everglades Policy Celeste De Palma commented on the proposed cuts:
“This is the third year in a row that cuts to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers budget for Everglades restoration have been proposed. We need more investment in green infrastructure, not less. Everglades restoration is the blueprint to combat the harmful algal blooms that plagued south Florida last summer. Increased and steadfast commitment from the federal government at the $200 million level will ensure the completion of these critical projects now, not later. We are urging Congress to get it right, and I know we have strong leadership in the U.S. House and Senate to get us there.”
Everglades restoration is a 50-50 cost-share partnership between the State of Florida and the federal government. In 2016, Florida passed Legacy Florida Act committing $200 million per year towards Everglades restoration. This year, Governor Ron DeSantis is calling for an unprecedented investment of state dollars in Everglades restoration by recommending $360 million in his budget. Audubon will work with members of Congress to ensure the federal government’s full commitment to the River of Grass.
This past summer, Florida experienced the longest red tide on record and toxic blue-green algae blooms resulting in thousands of pounds of dead marine life and birds, shuttered businesses, angered visitors and beachgoers, and sickened Floridians. With a number of projects nearing completion within the next five years, sustained and increased funding from Congress can finally deliver the results so desperately needed by the people of Florida and our cherished birds and wildlife.