The state of Florida plans to purchase 187,000 acres of Everglades
MEMPHIS, Tenn. – June 25, 2008 - Ducks Unlimited, the leader in wetland habitat conservation, acknowledges the purchase of 187,000 acres of Everglades by the state of Florida as a significant milestone in conservation. Purchasing the land from U.S. Sugar Corporation, the $1.7 billion purchase is crucial to the South Florida wetland ecosystem.
“This deal covers an area of more than 292 square miles and is perhaps the most important wetlands restoration opportunity ever presented,” said Dr. Alan Wentz, group manager of conservation and communications with Ducks Unlimited. “No single wetland has captured the American public’s imagination so much as the Everglades. This purchase gives us the chance to restore one of the greatest ecosystems on our continent and we hope the resources can be found to make that happen as quickly as possible.”
The purchase, which will restore the freshwater flow into Lake Okeechobee, is considered a critical link to restoring the vast wetlands of South Florida. Development, flood control projects and agricultural runoff have led to the Everglades’ depletion over the years and more than 35 percent of the natural wetlands have been drained. It is the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States and is home to rare and endangered species such as the American crocodile and Florida panther, among several species of waterfowl.
“This purchase is outstanding for wetland habitat conservation and will benefit waterfowl and other water birds throughout the region,” Wentz explained. “The South Florida Water Management District recognizes the benefits of wetlands for wildlife and people and this is an excellent example.”
With more than a million supporters, Ducks Unlimited is the world’s largest and most effective wetland and waterfowl conservation organization with more than 12 million acres conserved. The United States alone has lost more than half of its original wetlands - nature’s most productive ecosystem - and continues to lose more than 80,000 wetland acres each year.