Some days, the only option is to pole into the wind and the glare. Other days, the wind is at our back, the sun clearly illuminates what lies ahead, and the tide is in our favor. After many years of fighting for Everglades restoration in a political climate that made progress difficult, we are heartened to finally have the wind at our back and an ally for Everglades restoration in the Governor’s Office.
Bonefish & Tarpon Trust and our partners in the Now or Neverglades coalition held high hopes that Governor Ron DeSantis would deliver on his campaign promise to make water quality issues a central focus of his administration. In his first 60 days in office, Governor DeSantis has exceeded our expectations by making sweeping changes that will bolster Everglades restoration efforts, begin to create a long-term solution to Florida’s recurrent algal blooms along its east and west coasts, and better protect the state’s recreational fishing industry.
Governor DeSantis has taken bold steps toward affirming his campaign’s promises. On January 10, the Governor signed Executive Order 19-12 (Achieving More Now for Florida’s Environment), implementing major reforms to ensure the protection of Florida’s environment and water quality. The order calls for the allocation of $2.5 billion over the next four years for Everglades restoration and protection of water resources. This represents a $1 billion increase in spending over the previous four years and, if granted, would be the highest level of funding for restoration in the state’s history.
In response to the massive algal blooms that have decimated the fisheries along Florida’s east and west coasts, the Governor has also called for the establishment of a Blue-Green Algae Task Force, charged with reducing the harmful impacts of algal blooms. We also applaud the Governor’s commitment to restore natural flow to Florida Bay, where hypersaline conditions have resulted in massive seagrass die-offs. His executive order mandates that the South Florida Water Management District immediately begin the next phase of the EAA Reservoir project design and ensure that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approves the project on schedule.
As a science-based conservation organization, we are heartened by Governor DeSantis’s creation of the Office of Environmental Accountability and Transparency, which will direct scientific research and analysis to ensure that all agency actions are in step with his administration’s environmental priorities. These efforts will be led by a Chief Science Officer, who will be tasked with ensuring that Floridians’ current and emerging environmental concerns are addressed.
Thank you for your support of Bonefish & Tarpon Trust and the Now or Neverglades coalition—the hard-fought progress we have made thus far would not have been possible without your advocacy. We urge you to stay informed by following our social media and reading the forthcoming spring issue of the BTT Journal. Together, we can make a meaningful difference for the Everglades and Florida Bay. The future of our beloved fisheries depends on it.
Chairman of the Board