Gov. Rick Scott wants dedicated source of funds for Everglades restoration

Scott also pledges $150 million for Fla. panther land

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – Gov. Rick Scott made an announcement Tuesday at Gator Park in the Everglades that could be good news for Florida wildlife.

Scott wants to create a source of money for Everglades restoration that would grow to $5 billion over the next 20 years. He is pledging $150 million to land acquisition for the Florida panther. 

"The Florida panther is a symbol of the state's natural beauty, as well as a reminder of the wild lands from which Florida was developed," Scott said. 

The money will help fund projects to protect estuaries and would help deal with discharges of polluted water from Lake Okeechobee. It will also allow the Department of Environmental Protection to identify and fund additional storage projects in the future.

"The families that live along our estuaries and America's Everglades need to know that a restored Everglades and an end to excessive discharging from Lake Okeechobee is clearly in their future," Scott said.

A special, unexpected guest attended the news conference -- a Florida panther that was kept in a cage away from the crowd.

"Having more land to increase their coverage, to increase their habitat, is critical to ensuring the survival of the Florida panther," John Adornato of the National Parks Conservation Association told Local 10 News. 

Florida voters have already designated $10 billion over the next 20 years to environmental protection.

Scott is also asking the federal government to step up its commitment to Everglades restoration. 

The budget recommendations will be submitted this week to the Florida Legislature as part of Scott's proposal.

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