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Florida buys U.S. Sugar, returns land to Everglades

This has not much to do with climate change, but it’s too interesting not to mention:

> The dream of a restored Everglades, with water flowing from Lake Okeechobee to Florida Bay, moved a giant step closer to reality on Tuesday when the nation’s largest sugarcane producer agreed to sell all of its assets to the state and go out of business.

Florida is paying $1.75 billion for about 300 square miles of land north of the park, area critical to restoring the natural flow of water that feeds the so-called “river of grass.” There are still some messy details to be worked out — the land isn’t contiguous, so swaps might be necessary; prices could change; etc. But conservationists are positively giddy over the deal, comparing its significance to the establishment of Yellowstone, America’s first national park.

The Wall Street Journal has some interesting back story on the deal, including speculation that Florida governor Charlie Crist is attempting to burnish his national stature and environmental cred in a bid to remain in the running as McCain’s VP pick. Also worth noting is the deal is a bit of a two-fer: a huge win for the environment, and also a bail-out for a politically connected and financially troubled sugar company. Regardless of how it came about, though, it seems like a very good day for a unique and threatened ecosystem.

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