Florida to purchase 20,000 acres of Everglades wetlands to protect from oil drilling

In a time when wetlands are depleting and various ecosystems are being destroyed, the Florida government under Ron DeSantis is setting themselves up to be a notch above. On Thursday the state of Florida has reached a deal with a private real estate firm to buy 20,000 acres of wetlands in the heart of Everglades.

These wetlands are said to be a home for more than 60 endangered and threatened species. A family-owned real estate business Kanter Real Estate LLC has been holding these lands for 50 years now. The government made the decision to buy the wetlands after a Florida appeals court ruled against the state Environmental Protection Department’s bid to deny the Miami-based real estate company a permit to explore for oil in the area.

“This significant purchase will permanently save these lands from oil drilling,” said DeSantis, the Republican governor.

When this purchase is completed, a total of around 600,000 acres of wetlands will be under permanent protection within the Everglades conservation area, an area set aside for environmental restoration and recreation. Florida panther, the American crocodile, the American alligator, and the West Indian manatee are the most notable creatures in Everglades that are placed under federal protection.

Temperince Morgan, executive director of the Nature Conservancy’s Florida chapter tells us that “Water flowing through that area (wetlands) also recharges the Biscayne Aquifer, the source of drinking water for all of South Florida, including the greater Miami metropolitan area.”

The governer’s move to purchase the land is being lauded by conservationists as an oil farming operation in the region could have created one more ecological catastrophe. About half of South Florida has been reported lost to human development. As the remaining wetlands are still under the threat of agriculture, urbanization, and sea-level rise, this administration has set an example for everyone by purchasing the lands and placing it under permanent protection.

Meanwhile the president of the real estate firm, John Canter told the Wall Street Journal his company had planned to pursue oil exploration with the “highest degree of safety.” In an email statement to CNN, he also said “We are happy that the property will be protected and remain in pristine condition for many years to come. All of the stakeholders on both sides negotiated in good faith to find common interests and common ground.”

The family has agreed to sell the property for  $16.5 million with a provision to jump to $18 million if the deal closes after June 30.

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