Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Letter to Governor Scott: Complete the purchase of U.S. Sugar lands before the exclusive option expires next month

September 23, 2013

Office of Governor Rick Scott
State of Florida
The Capitol
400 S. Monroe St.
Tallahassee, FL 32399-0001

Dear Governor Scott,

On behalf of afflicted coastal residents, South Florida taxpayers and millions of people whose drinking water depends on a restored Everglades, we call on the State of Florida to complete the purchase of up to 153,000 acres of U.S. Sugar lands before the exclusive option expires next month.

Five years ago, the South Florida Water Management District announced it would purchase 187,000 acres of U.S. Sugar’s land south of Lake Okeechobee to restore clean water to the Everglades and provide relief to coastal estuaries. On October 12, 2010, the District closed on a contract to purchase 26,800 acres of land for $197 million, while retaining a three-year exclusive option for the rest.

The state’s exclusive 3-year option -- to purchase either a specifically identified 46,800 acres or the entire 153,000 acres at a fixed price of $7,400 per acre -- will expire next month forcing the state to pay market prices for the land and compete with other buyers.

On November 18, 2010, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that the U.S. Sugar purchase “serves the public purpose of conserving and protecting water and water-related resources.”
Never before has that public purpose been more evident. Coastal estuaries served by the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie Rivers are collapsing along with their local economies. While short-term solutions can provide limited relief, the permanent solution is to send more water south to the Everglades by buying more sugar land to store, clean and eventually flow water south.

The purchase of U.S. Sugar lands before October 12, 2013, represents the most cost-efficient method for storing, treating and moving water south. We strongly urge you to make the investment in Florida’s future at a price that may never come again.


Frank Jackalone
Senior Staff Manager
Sierra Club

Jennifer Hecker
Director of Natural Resource Policy
Conservancy of Southwest Florida

Manley Fuller
President and CEO
Florida Wildlife Federation

Mark Perry
Executive Director
Florida Oceanographic Society

Rae Ann Wessel
Natural Resource Policy Director
Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation

Kathleen E. Aterno
Florida Director
Clean Water Action

Katie Tripp, Ph.D.
Director of Science and Conservation
Save the Manatee Club

Sandy Gilbert
(Solutions To Avoid Red Tide)

Michael J. Holsinger
Holsinger Horticultural Services

Russ Hoffman
Beautiful Ponds

Carol Leonard
Board of Directors
Coastal Wildlife Club, Inc.

Terry Brant
Legislative/Legal Affairs Chairman
Florida Water Conservation Trust

American Health Trust

Island Aeromarine Services

Linda Young
Florida Clean Water Network

Burton Eno PhD, PE (ret)
Rainbow River Conservation, Inc.

Donna Melzer
Martin County Conservation Alliance

Dan Hilliard
W.A.R., Inc.

Kings Bay Springs Alliance

Peter Anderson
Chairman, President and CEO

Karen Fraley, CIG
Sarasota Bay Guardians Coordinator
Around the Bend Nature Tours LLC

John McCabe
Ding Darling Wildlife Society

Alexis Segal
Executive Director
Biscayne Bay Waterkeeper

Mike Chenoweth
Florida Division of the
Izaak Walton League of America

Florida Keys Chapter of the
Izaak Walton League of America

Pamela Pierce
Cypress Chapter of the
Izaak Walton League of America

Michael Orchin
Cape Coral Friends of Wildlife

Laurie Macdonald
Director, Florida Programs
Defenders of Wildlife

Matthew Schwartz
Executive Director
South Florida Wildlands Association

John Marshall
Arthur R. Marshall Foundation

Alan Farago
Friends of the Everglades

Karja Hansen
Urban Environment League

Charles Pattison
1000 Friends of Florida

John Adornato III
Sun Coast Regional Director
National Parks Conservation Association

Debbie Matthews
Sierra Club Florida

Elinor Williams
Friends of Arthur R. Marshall
Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge 

Steve Brodkin
Concerned Citizens of
Bayshore Community, Inc.

Charles Sobczak
Lee Reefs