Republican Rep. Brian Mast has authored a letter to President Donald Trump pushing for an increase in Everglades restoration funding in Trump’s upcoming budget request.
The most recent federal appropriations measure contained $200 million for the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration (SFER) program. That program includes a collection of water projects in Central and South Florida — including reservoirs and stormwater treatment areas — aimed at keeping the Everglades clean.
That $200 million figure was an increase of $130 million over the previous year. Mast’s letter is asking the President to request an additional $50 million in federal funds, bringing the total request for Fiscal Year 2021 to $250 million.
“Over the last three years, working together, we have made substantial progress by authorizing the EAA Southern Storage Reservoir, expediting completion of Herbert Hoover Dike repairs and nearly tripling funding for Everglades restoration projects; however, there is much more work to be done,” Mast wrote in that letter.
“I know from our previous conversations that you are committed to addressing this public health crisis, which is why it is critical that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers works faster and harder to complete projects ahead of schedule. In addition to changing the way Lake Okeechobee is managed, accelerating completion of the EAA Southern Storage Reservoir is the best way to eliminate harmful discharges and send more clean water south into the Everglades. Funding SFER at $250 million this year will ensure that the Army Corps of Engineers is operating at nothing less than full capacity to accomplish this goal.”
Mast represents Florida’s 18th Congressional District. That district covers all of St. Lucie and Martin counties as well as northeastern Palm Beach County, including Tequesta, Jupiter, Palm Beach Gardens and part of West Palm Beach.
Gov. Ron DeSantis has also pushed for a bump in state funding on environmental issues. DeSantis secured $625 million during the 2019 Session for water issues, with more than $320 million of that going toward Everglades restoration.
DeSantis has said he would seek similar funding totals for each of his first four terms.
Mast emphasized the importance of that funding in a statement released alongside the letter.
“We fought tooth and nail last year to secure a historic increase in funding for Everglades restoration. Now it’s time to build on that momentum and continue doing everything we can to protect our ecosystems and stop harmful discharges,” Mast said.
“With the EAA Southern Storage Reservoir within our grasp, now is the time to put the pedal to the metal to get the job done!”