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Florida to spend $1.7 billion on Everglades
Crist said the purchase provides "a critical missing link" that will restore the flow of fresh water from Lake Okeechobee into the Everglades, the massive South Florida marshland.
"It is as monumental as the creation of our nation's first national park, Yellowstone," he said. "This represents -- if we are successful, and I believe we will be -- the largest conservation purchase in the history of Florida."
The 187,000-acre tract -- about 292 square miles -- comes from the cane fields of U.S. Sugar, which will be going out of business within six years as part of the deal, CEO Bob Buker said.
Decades of development, flood-control projects and agricultural runoff had caused the Everglades to shrivel to about half of the 11,000 square miles it covered in the early 20th century.
The Everglades Foundation, a conservation group that has been critical of the sugar industry in the past, called Tuesday's announcement "a once-in-a-generation opportunity."
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