TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Gov. Charlie Crist repackaged his Big Sugar land deal on Wednesday, announcing that the state would buy less than half of U.S. Sugar's fields for Everglades restoration, but at a third of the price.
The governor said the new offer -- $533 million for 72,500 acres of citrus groves and sugar fields, with a 10-year state option to buy more -- would cut taxpayer costs, save 1,700 farming jobs in Clewiston, preserve his goal of creating a crucial Everglades flow-way and still remain the largest conservation land purchase in state history.
Environmentalists say it's not much more than half the amount needed to supply the Everglades with plentiful clean water and divert polluted runoff strangling Lake Okeechobee and rivers on both coasts.
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