Thursday, 21 July 2011 07:40
FPL and Everglades National Park to Exchange LandWritten by Valerie Alker
The National Park Service and Florida’s largest electric utility are preparing for a land swap in Everglades National Park. Since its boundaries were expanded in 1989, the park service has been buying up privately held parcels.
One of the last parcels is a 7 ½-mile-long corridor owned by Florida Power and Light (FPL). The utility bought the land in the1960s with an eye for building future transmission lines. Now, the parcel sits in the middle of a flow-way that will be created when construction of a bridge replacing a portion of the Tamiami Trail in Western Miami Dade County is complete in 2013.
Everglades National Park Superintendent Dan Kimball said the bridge will allow water from the Northern Everglades to flow south, nurturing the River of Grass.
“We want to be in a situation where we can take full advantage of our major investment with the bridge so we can bring water into the park because right now we’re only getting on an average annual basis about 30 percent of the water, so the park is dying of the thirst,” he said.
Before the park can acquire the land from FPL, it must complete an Environmental Impact Statement and the comment period ends July 25. But, FPL Spokesman Mayco Villafano said the utility is anxious to move ahead with the land exchange.
“It will give us a parcel of land that’s going to be in the periphery side of the park so we can serve the electrical needs of a growing south Florida and the park at the same time will have the land that is inside the annexed area,” he said.
Park Superintendent Kimball said the FPL tract is one six remaining private parcels in the park, which also include three commercial airboat tour operations and two radio tower arrays. There are also plans to build more bridges to replace portions of the lower Tamiami Trail to increase water flow into the Everglades, but those plans are contingent on federal funding.