Fact Sheet: President Clinton and Vice President Gore: Restoring an American Natural Treasure (12/11/00)
          World?s Largest Environmental Restoration Will Restore
                    Natural Flow to Florida Everglades
                             December 11, 2000

President Clinton today officially launched a historic restoration of the
Florida Everglades, aimed at reviving millions of acres of sawgrass
prairies, mangrove and cypress swamps, hardwood hammocks, and coral reefs.
In signing the Everglades Restoration Act, the President began a 30-year,
$7.8 billion effort to restore this natural treasure, an effort that enjoys
broad, bipartisan support and has been a major environmental priority for
the Administration. The Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan will
return a natural flow of water through the Everglades, which has seen over
70 percent of its historic flows diverted to supply water to farms and
communities and roughly half of its acres lost to agriculture and

Reviving a Natural Treasure, America?s ?River of Grass?
President Clinton and Vice President Gore have made the restoration of the
Florida Everglades a major environmental priority. Today, President Clinton
turned that aim into a reality when he signed the Water Resources
Development Act of 2000, authorizing the Comprehensive State Everglades
Restoration Plan. A broad coalition of national and local environmental,
agricultural, business, and citizen groups helped develop the plan, which
guides restoration of the Everglades for the next 30 years. The plan seeks
to nearly double the amount of fresh water available to South Florida,
ensuring clean, plentiful flows for the Everglades and adequate supplies
for the region?s cities and farms.

Over the past half century, levees and canals built to control floods and
deliver water to farms and growing communities have deprived the Everglades
of 70 percent of its historic flows. Roughly half of the Everglades has
been lost to agriculture and development. Populations of wading birds have
plummeted 90 to 95 percent. Scores of species are gone or ? like the
American crocodile and Florida panther ? in danger of extinction. From Lake
Okeechobee to Everglades National Park to the coral reefs of the Florida
Keys, South Florida?s entire ecosystem is in peril. At the same time, the
region?s population is projected to double by 2050, and continued
environmental decline threatens to undermine the region?s thriving tourist

Launching History?s Largest Environmental Restoration Effort
The Everglades Restoration Plan represents an historic opportunity to save
the Everglades and ensure a sustainable economic future for South Florida.
Its principal aim is to capture and clean much of the water that now flows
unused to sea and deliver it when and where it is needed most. Key features
?    raising 20 miles of highway, and removing 240 miles of levees and
canals, to help restore natural ?sheet flows?;
?    181,250 acres of above-ground reservoirs with a capacity of 1.54
million acre-feet;
?    300 wells to store and retrieve water from underground aquifers;
?    35,600 acres of wetlands to naturally filter polluted runoff; and
?    reuse of 220 million gallons a day of wastewater.

When completed, the Plan will generate an additional 1.1 million acre-feet
of water a year. Eighty percent of the ?new? water will be committed to
environmental restoration, with the remaining 20 percent ensuring adequate
supplies for cities and farms through 2050. Rebuilding the region?s water
system to more closely mimic nature?s design will:
?    help restore more than 2.4 million acres of the south Florida
?    improve the health of Lake Okeechobee, the second largest freshwater
lake in the continental United States;
?    guarantee increased flows to Everglades National Park; and,
?    revive Florida Bay and the coral reefs of the Florida Keys.

Preserving America?s Waterways, Estuaries, and Oceans
The Water Resources Development Act of 2000 that the President signed also
allows for major efforts to deepen channels into the New York/New Jersey
harbor, improve the Puget Sound ecosystem, and restore the estuary of the
lower Columbia River. In addition, the bill strengthens the authority of
the Corps of Engineers to evaluate water resource needs of watersheds
throughout the nation.

The President?s action today builds on a remarkable record of coastal and
ocean protection. President Clinton and Vice President Gore have taken bold
steps to keep our beaches clean, safeguard our coasts from the risks of
offshore oil development, and protect dolphins and other marine mammals. To
better address the long-term challenges, the President and Vice President
launched a national dialogue leading to a comprehensive strategy for
strengthening federal ocean policy for the 21st century. And just last week
the President established an 84-million acre coral reef reserve ? the
nation?s largest protected area ? off Hawaii?s northwestern islands.

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