MIAMI _ Ten years ago, giddy over passage of a landmark state-federal agreement to restore the Everglades, environmentalists set a sweeping, ambitious and impossible agenda for the coming decade.
Revive flows to parched Everglades National Park. Reverse declines in Lake Okeechobee. Manage suburban growth to protect wetlands and water. Build three-quarters of the reservoirs and enough projects to hit half the restoration targets for the River of Grass.
As the Everglades Coalition wraps up its 25th annual conference Sunday in Palm Beach Gardens, those lofty goals remain years away. Yet, after a decade marked by delay, lawsuits and red tape, not to mention a rocky state-federal partnership rumored to be on the verge of breakup more often than Brad and Angelina, Everglades advocates and restoration agencies spent the weekend professing they've regained their mojo.
Eric Draper, Audubon of Florida's state director, compared the Everglades effort to a football game. "We've been in the fight for 25 years. We're continuing to put points on the board."
In those sporting terms, a spurt of late fourth quarter scoring has rescued an otherwise fumbling decade. The Obama administration has come off the bench to pump some $600 million of federal stimulus and budget cash into Glades projects.
The White House sent five high-ranking aides to the conference, the largest annual gathering of environmental groups in Florida, who all called the restoration a top environmental priority.
"The commitment is real. The money is real. The determination is real," said Thomas Strickland, an assistant U.S. Interior Secretary.
Read the complete story at miamiherald.com