More than 11,000 acres saved from oil drilling in Everglades City

Reporter: Michelle Alvarez Writer: Matias Abril
Published: Updated:

More than 11,000 acres are now protected from oil drilling forever because of a first-of-its-kind $29.5 million deal. The property is near Everglades City.

More than a quarter of the land is mangrove habitat, which is crucial for water quality and storm protection.

It’s also home to black bears, Florida panthers and 37 other federally listed species in our region.

“When you look at the need for that connected landscape to fulfill the full Florida wildlife corridor, this is a key piece,” said Meredith Budd, Director of External Affairs at the Live Wildly Foundation.

Also known as the Green Heart of the Everglades, the Collier County property is west of State Road 29 and south of U.S. 41 running south to Everglades City.

“I applaud the groups that have been directly involved, and it’s a great win for the state,” Budd said.

Budd is talking about a multi-million-dollar deal by the Collier Family, the nonprofit Wildlandscapes International, Family Lands Remembered by the Florida legislature, the South Florida Water Management District and more.

“Florida, specifically, we have a very unique geology and hydrology, and we depend on our underground aquifers for most of our drinking water,” Budd said.

Budd said not having these lands protected from oil drilling can have an impact on our water, air quality and more.

“When you’re talking about recovery of an endangered species, having a connected landscape through this area, which is their core habitat is important when we’re talking about dispersal and having those panthers moving northward for recovery,” Budd said.

Chad Evers with Florida Gulf Coast University’s Water School said it’s important to understand that we do have a growing human population, but…

“I think it’s, you know, really important to protect those things for just the sake of protecting them, but also the sake of future humans having the same equitable access to nature that we’ve had, in our lifetimes in previous generations,” Evers said.

Evers said there are two sides to every story. He knows there’s an economic value in oil drilling, but he believes saving the Everglades and any land like this is far more important for us and the environment.

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