The South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) have finalized an agreement to exchange two parcels of land near the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge in western Palm Beach County.
It's a deal the District claims will keep Gov. Rick Scott's Restoration Strategies Plan on track to hit its 2025 completion target for design and construction of water treatment and storage projects.
SFWMD Governing Board Chairman Dan O'Keefe was glowing. "Completing this land swap is a big step forward in the state's ongoing and incredibly successful efforts to restore the health of Florida's Everglades," he said.
The deal exchanges SFWMD-owned lands for 1,327 acres of federally owned land west of the Loxahatchee Refuge known as the Snail Farm parcel. The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) will now take ownership of the District's 2,586 acres east of the Loxahatchee Refuge known as the Strazzulla parcel. The deal also includes the release of restrictions held by DOI on other SFWMD-owned properties.
The Snail Farm parcel is crucial to the expansion of Stormwater Treatment Area 1 West, which is part of the Restoration Strategies Plan to complete Everglades water quality restoration.
"SFWMD has invested significant effort and resources into Restoration Strategies because we're committed to creating a restored and vibrant Everglades to be enjoyed by generations to come," continued O'Keefe.
The Strazzulla parcel is located near the USFWS offices of operation on the east side of the Refuge and major roadways for better public access. The land swap provides USFWS a piece of property where it can expand public access for recreational opportunities and other agency uses.
READ MORE FROM SUNSHINE STATE NEWS