NWRA President Evan Hirsche attended an event in Florida today, where Vice President Joe Biden spoke about the Obama administration’s recent accomplishments conserving the Everglades. Florida Senator Bill Nelson, and Congressman Alcee Hastings joined Mr. Biden at the event.
The Vice President spoke passionately about the 18,000 square-mile Everglades ecosystem, which he described as a “national treasure” encompassing an area much larger than the protected Everglades National Park. Biden emphasized the economic importance of the “River of Grass” as a tourist destination, and noted that over $1.5 million has been invested in protecting the Everglades since President Obama took office. He estimates that these restoration efforts will generate $46.5 billion in net revenues over the long haul.
Vice President Biden also discussed the recent creation of the Everglades Headwaters National Wildlife Refuge and Conservation Area, which has been an NWRA priority for several years. He commended Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and the ranchers in central Florida for working together to further the shared goal of protecting the northern reaches of the Everglades watershed.
In January, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe, and Senator Bill Nelson announced the establishment of America’s 556th national wildlife refuge, the Everglades Headwaters National Wildlife Refuge and Conservation Area. The creation of the Headwaters Refuge marked an exciting milestone not just for the Refuge System and the State of Florida, but also for NWRA. Learn more about how NWRA helped create the newest national wildlife refuge.
Mr. Biden’s visit to the Everglades put much-needed spotlight on protecting the Everglades in its entirety. This is important not only to protect a unique and fragile ecosystem for wildlife, but also to insure that clean water needed by millions of people in South Florida continues to flow through the Everglades.