During his first year in office, President Barack Obama has taken steps to improve the Florida Everglades, something he promised he would do on the campaign trail.
Specifically, he said the federal government would provide matching funds to help restore the ailing wetlands. It's an obligation the government has had for nine years but had not lived up to until now, according to the Everglades Foundation, a nonprofit that looks after the endangered wetlands.
Between appropriations dollars and about $100 million in stimulus funding, the government has shuttled up to $250 million to the program this year, said Kirk Fordham, CEO of the Everglades Foundation.
Funding is coming from a number of departments, including the Army Corps of Engineers which announced on Nov. 4, 2009, that is had awarded a $53 million contract to construct a pump station, plug 13.5 miles of canals, and remove 95 miles of crumbling roads in the Everglades preserve. About $40 million of that sum was included in the stimulus bill passed in early 2009. That funding will be paired with contributions already made by the state of Florida.
It signals a good start by the Obama administration on the long-delayed $10.7 billion restoration project, Fordham said.
"The first year certainly has been a sign that they intend to fulfill their promise," he said. "We've seen record funding, they've made appointments to deal with some of these problems, and there's been ground-breaking on some key projects that are long awaited."
So, Obama said he would match dollars to restore the Everglades, and he has. Nevertheless, the restoration is a multidecade process -- it could take up to 30 years, and many projects are already behind schedule -- so it's really still a work in progress, said Fordham. As a result, we're moving this promise to In the Works.