Graham warns of Everglades delays

Sen. Bob Graham, D-Fla., left, speaks with former U.S Assistant Secretary of the Interior Nathaniel Reed before speaking at The Everglades Coalition's 18th annual conference in Delray Beach, Fla., Saturday.

The Associated Press
Published: Sunday, January 12, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 12, 2003 at 1:17 a.m.
DELRAY BEACH - U.S. Sen. Bob Graham said a federal project to restore the dying Florida Everglades is making progress, but delays are posing a serious challenge to the $8.5 billion plan.
"You have all heard me say that Everglades restoration is like open-heart surgery - it cannot be stopped in the middle and, if halted while in progress, survival is impossible," Graham told more than 40 environmental groups at The Everglades Coalition's 18th Annual Congress on Saturday.
Graham, who is considering a run for president, said he wants assurances of permanent federal funding and a stop to delays in plans to buy abandoned agricultural lands before developers can acquire them.
Graham also reviewed a "report card" showing progress in three key areas he had outlined last year. The state and federal government made key agreements in restoring natural water flow, and progress was made in Everglades education and outreach to other environmental restoration programs.
The annual Everglades Coalition conference comes two years after Congress approved the restoration plan of saw grass prairies, hardwood hammocks, cypress swamps and mangrove shorelines that make up the Everglades.
The project will essentially replumb the Everglades to restore the natural water flow from Lake Okeechobee to Florida Bay to the way it was decades before. The plan calls for creating reservoirs for water storage, areas to treat and clean storm-water runoff and ways to ensure enough water for agriculture and urban needs.
After the conference, Graham talked about his possible presidential campaign. He said he will continue talking to potential supporters before making a decision.
"I try not to be self-delusional, but I have heard no discouraging words," Graham said.

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