She came, she saw, she toured by airboat, and she reaffirmed that the Obama administration remains committed “to the people of Florida to make the Everglades restoration a high priority.”
Sally Jewell, less than three weeks into her job as secretary of the interior, toured the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge near Boynton Beach and Everglades National Park on Wednesday -- her first major trip since taking her post.
“We still have much work to do, from addressing invasive species to developing new water projects,” she said, “and we will work with the state, Native American Tribes, local governments and all the stakeholders to get the job done.”
At Loxahatchee, she received a briefing on projects to clean up nutrient pollution from surrounding fields. The work stems from an agreement last year between the state and the Environmental Protection Agency in which the state agreed to pour $880 million into water treatment.
Jewell flew over the central Everglades to view state-managed water conservation areas. And she stopped by the Tamiami Trail bridge, dedicated earlier this year, which will allow natural water flow to the Northeast Shark River Slough.
The administration proposed $30 million in its 2014 budget to help build another 2.6-mile bridge span.
Jewell took an airboat tour of Everglades National Park to observe restoration projects. She also talked with biologists about invasions from non-native species such as pythons and melaleuca plants.
Her visit shows that Jewell intends to keep Interior’s focus on the Everglades, an important commitment amid the budget crunch in Washington.