Tuesday, June 24, 2008

No more sugar = more water at Lake Okeechobee

I had never seen sugar cane before taking this photo.

Lake O still has some water.

I took a trip in January to Lake Okeechobee, where I investigated the surprising lack of water in the lake and toured the refreshingly rural area that surrounds it.

Go here for that post.

Years of farming crops such as sugarcane have sucked the water out of Lake O and the connected Everglades. Corn, left, is also cultivated in the region.

But Gov. Charlie Crist, in a big conservation move, announced today that the state o' Florida will buy U.S. Sugar for $1.7 billion. The company owns 187,000 acres of land around Lake O and has contributed greatly to its downfall. A New York Times story says:
"The intention is to restore the Everglades by restoring the water flow from Lake Okeechobee, in the heart of the state, south to Florida Bay. That flow had been interrupted by commercial farming and the Everglades have suffered as a result."
U.S. Sugar Chief Executive Robert Buker Jr. said, "It the right thing to do." (Yes, that's right, he left out a verb in that sentence. Or maybe The Times left it out? Not sure.)

I thought this would be a great time to revisit my map of Lake O.

I took a counter-clockwise drive around the lake and took photos and notes along the way. I capped the day with some fried okra at a local hole-in-the-wall diner.


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