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DeSantis Unveils Environmental Budget Proposal, Two South Florida Water Mgmt. District Appointments

The sun sets behind the lock and dam on Lake Okeechobee and St. Lucie Canal.
Amy Green
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Conservationist Ron Bergeron and Sanibel City Councilman Chauncey Goss are Gov. Ron DeSantis’ first appointments to the South Florida Water Management District.

The appointments come after the governor called for resignations earlier this month from the district’s entire governing board.

Ron “Alligator” Bergeron is an eighth-generation Floridian. He is a South Florida developer and former member of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Chauncey Goss is a policy consultant in southwest Florida. He ran for Congress in 2016 as a Republican but lost in the primary to Representative Francis Rooney.

“This board really plays an important role in our water quality and making sure things I’m trying to do can be put into fruition,” DeSantis said.

Three district board members already have resigned. The terms of two more expire in March. The district oversees Everglades restoration and water resources in Central and South Florida.

DeSantis also unveiled a state budget proposal on the environment aimed at putting into action a sweeping executive order he signed earlier this month.

The chief target is toxic algae. The proposal includes $625 million for water resources including $360 million for the Everglades.

I’m also including $107 million for the EAA reservoir south of the lake,” the governor said. “That’s a $43 million increase above the annual $64 million to ensure we’re moving forward with the projects, so that we can move water south and stop sending water east and west to these coasts.”

The Everglades Agricultural Area reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee is aimed at restoring a more natural flow of water for the river of grass and sparing estuaries to the east and west of toxic algae.

The Legislature will take up the governor’s budget proposal during the spring session.

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Amy Green