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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
January 9, 2002

President Bush Takes Action to Help Restore Everglades
Statement by the President

On June 4, 2001, I joined the Governor of Florida in visiting the Everglades.  The Everglades and the entire south Florida ecosystem are a unique national treasure.  The restoration of this ecosystem is a priority for my Administration, as well as for Governor Bush.  Today we are very pleased to solidify our commitment and full partnership in this unprecedented endeavor by signing a joint agreement to ensure that adequate water supplies will be available to benefit State and federally owned natural resources.

The Water Resources Development Act of 2000 authorized the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan.  The Plan has a projected cost of $7.8 billion over 30 years, the largest ecosystem restoration project ever undertaken. The Plan establishes a unique 50/50 cost-sharing partnership between the State of Florida and the Federal Government.

A critical component of the Plan relates to the supply and management of water for multiple uses in South Florida -- restoration, municipal, agricultural, and flood control.  The Congress determined that the overarching objective of the Plan is the restoration, preservation, and protection of the South Florida ecosystem, while providing for other water-related needs of the region, including water supply and flood protection.

Because the Federal Government's primary interest is in restoration and protection of the federally owned natural resources in the State, the Congress called for the President and the Governor to agree formally that the State would reserve under State law for each restoration project water sufficient to meet the needs of the South Florida ecosystem, including Everglades National Park, the Big Cypress National Preserve, and other natural areas owned by the State and Federal Government.  The reservation of water under State law will be included in the Project Implementation Report for each project and will be consistent with the Plan.

My Administration is deeply committed to the Federal/State Everglades partnership, and the Department of the Interior and the Army Corps of Engineers will have important roles in this effort.  On January 16, 2002, Secretary of the Interior Norton will convene a meeting in Plantation, Florida, of the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Task Force comprised of representatives of Federal, State, regional, local, and tribal governments to discuss issues involving Everglades restoration including the recently released draft programmatic regulations by the Army Corps of Engineers.

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