Department Of Interior

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Office of the Secretary
Hugh Vickery
For Immediate Release:Oct. 16, 2003
Deputy Secretary Griles Applauds First Groundbreaking
In Implementation of Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan

Attending the groundbreaking of the first component in the three-decade Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan, Deputy Secretary of the Interior Steve Griles applauded Florida Governor Jeb Bush and the state of Florida for accelerating the Southern Golden Gates Estates Hydrological Project.
The Interior Department is a partner in the project, contributing $38 million to land acquisition.
"By moving forward quickly with this project, Florida has again demonstrated its strong commitment to lasting, on-the-ground restoration of the Everglades," Griles said at the event in Collier County in Southwest Florida. "The project is an excellent example of the kind of federal-state collaboration and partnership needed to restore the South Florida ecosystem."
In three construction phases, the restoration project will backfill most of a 7-mile drainage canal and remove 26 miles of adjacent roadways associated with the former Southern Golden Gates Estates subdivision. It will re-establish surface water sheet flow to restore wetlands within the project's boundaries and in the adjacent Fakahatchee Strand State Preserve, which supports the largest stand of native royal palms and the largest concentration of orchids in North America.
The project will also contribute to the restoration of habitat that supports endangered Florida panthers and wood stork as well as the threatened red-cockaded woodpecker, bald eagle and eastern indigo snake. The removal of drainage features will also benefit the endangered West Indian manatee and American crocodile.
In addition, the project will benefit downstream estuaries that include Everglades National Park and Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge.
"While we have made much progress in restoring the Everglades, this initial project in the implementation of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan marks the path we will take for the next three decades," Griles said. "It clearly demonstrates the power of using partnerships to take advantage of the strengths that each of the partners brings to bear."



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