Restoration projects in the Florida Everglades will be on the upswing in coming years with growing political interest in the effort and recent boosts in state and federal spending.
In September, the South Florida Water Management District approved a $1.2-billion budget, up $236 million from the previous year and the largest since 2011, says Beth Alvi, Audubon Florida policy directorm noting that Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), in his 2020 budget, allocated more than $625 million for restoration, with a pledge for similar spending over the next three years.
The Trump administration and Congress also hiked spending on Everglades restoration to $200 million for fiscal 2020, from $67.5 million in 2019. The administration requested a further $50 million for 2021, which began Oct. 1, but all federal programs are operating at 2020 levels through Dec. 11 under a continuing resolution.
The new budget would enable the district to meet its obligations under the state-federal, cost-shared Everglades program that dates to 2000. A September working draft of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Integrated Delivery Schedule estimates the total federal and non-federal cost of South Florida ecosystem restoration at $7.4 billion from 2020 to 2030, if the state and Congress authorize proposed work, with design and construction set to rise from $710 million in 2022 to $1.193 billion in 2024 and $1.059 billion in 2025.
A $200-million contract for one key project, the Tamiami Trail Next Steps, was awarded in early September by the Florida Dept. of Transportation. Work will begin in November to complete raising 6.5 miles of the roadway between Miami and south Florida's gulf coast to remove what has been since the late 1920s a serious obstacle blocking water delivery to the southern Everglades. The National Park Service is also providing funding.
Last month, the Corps also awarded contracts totaling $81 million for four separate Everglades restoration projects.