Commentary: Everglades restoration off to good start

Lake Okeechobee's dike will finally be repaired to prevent flooding. The Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge in Palm Beach County will be improved. And sewer improvements will protect the Florida Keys from polluting the clear turquoise waters.

Those are among dozens of projects that will be infused with federal stimulus dollars this year, part of the Department of Interior's catch up on long overdue Florida projects.

It's customary for every newly appointed Interior secretary to visit Everglades National Park after taking the helm of the agency.

It's also customary, since 2000, for new Interior secretaries to promise that the federal government will do its part to fund the partnership it struck with the state of Florida nine years ago to clean up and replumb the Everglades.

Until Interior Secretary Ken Salazar came to South Florida last week there was more style than substance to these promises. Dribs and drabs came from the federal government, but the majority of Everglades clean-up funding so far – $2 billion for 68 restoration projects and $4.8 billion on related clean-up projects – has come from the state, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

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