New proposed budget for environmental projects in Florida

Reporter: Elizabeth Biro Writer: Paul Dolan
Published: Updated:

Environmentalists hope Governor Ron DeSantis will give the green light on the state budget. The proposed budget is more than $11,000,000,000 in projects that would benefit agriculture and the environment.

The proposed budget would be a record-breaking amount focusing on water protection and the environment. Some of the proposed budget includes $850,000,000 for wildlife corridor, water quality improvements in the Caloosahatchee Watershed, red tide, and Everglades restoration.

Florida is an attractive destination for many because of the sun, water, and natural landscape. Fort Myers Beach snowbirds, Greg and Jill Steinback, are two people that come to Southwest Florida because of what nature offers.

“I mean, that’s, that’s why we’re all here. It’s because it’s, it’s beautiful, and it’s perfect,” Greg and Jill said.

“It’s just like heaven. It’s always perfect,” Greg said.

Except when it’s not. The Steinbacks have experienced red tide before, so they’re happy to hear Florida’s budget for next year includes $20,000,000 for harmful algal bloom mitigation and $5,000,000 for red tide debris cleanup.

“Yeah, you have to; if you didn’t, you wouldn’t have what you have now,” Greg and Jill said.

Another chunk of the landscape that’s getting a boost is the Everglades.

“The construction of reservoirs along the Caloosahatchee reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee, and a variety of projects in between that totals $382,000,000 in this budget,” CEO of the Everglades Foundation, Eric Eikenberg, said.

Eikenberg noted that money towards the Everglades and water quality conservation is well spent.

“This is a critical decade for us. In this journey to save what’s left, you know, originally was about 6,000,000 acres, we have 3,000,000 remaining. So half, we’ve lost half the Everglades over 100 years or so period,” Eikenberg said.

$25,000,000 is earmarked for water quality improvements for the Caloosahatchee River Watershed. First-time camper, Phil Scarpeli, told WINK News he knows why money is spent to protect the waterways. It’s because they’re beautiful.

“We’re privileged to have, you know, parks like this that are preserved by government, with real intentionality about preserving it to its natural state,” Scarpelli said. “I think it is important for generations to come to preserve what is nature’s best for us in Florida.”

DeSantis has 15 days from the date he receives the budget to sign it and exercise line-item vetoes, which would cancel those items he doesn’t agree with or support.

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