When it was announced that the state of Florida will buy out U.S. Sugar Corp. for $1.75 billion dollars I grew deeply concerned that primates with wings might be making an unimagined appearance. Recently there were whispers that the largest producer of sugar in the U.S. would intentionally go out of business in the next few years and sell their 300 square miles of land in the Everglades so that our greatest wetland can be restored - to which I responded "and monkeys will fly out of my butt." Today, Florida Governor Charlie Christ announced the plan to do just that. (buy the land from U.S.Sugar. Not fly out of my butt.)
One of the biggest detriments to the Everglades has been the government subsidized sugar industry that wriggled like a blood-thirsty tick into the rich, organic swampland of the Everglades just south of Lake Okeechobee. Sugarcane is not native to Florida but for all the years it has been grown here, the US government has kept an inflated price on it, causing US taxpayers to unknowingly overpay for sugar while preventing cheap imports. I don't get it either and the idea that a corporation would give all of that up just to placate the treehuggers while reaping a billion dollar payday is still unthinkable.
What this means for the Everglades is that the sheet flow of water that once spilled from Lake Okeechobee and flowed south through the river of grass can do so once again to a certain extent. No longer blocked by hundreds of thousands of acres of sugarcane fields, the river of grass might once more have some semblance of its former self and the water itself will have that much less pesticides and excessive nutrients flowing through them.
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U.S.Sugar is only one company. They produce 40% of the sugar in this country, so don't think the swampy slate will be wiped clean of polluting, environment altering crops of cane. But this is perhaps the greatest step towards restoring the Everglades that anyone has seen to date.
The idea that this is actually going to happen is so unthinkable it might make more sense to me if someone told me they cured baldness (they didn't did they?) or passed a laws preventing people from texting or using a cell phone while driving in Florida. No it's bigger than that and it's actually happening. I'll hold my breath and wait to hear all of the details and come to think of it I better pucker up the cheeks a bit too.