DeSantis names 'Alligator Ron' Bergeron to water management board

Governor pledges $625 million in funding for environmental projects

BROWARD COUNTY, Fla. – Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed "Alligator Ron" Bergeron to the board of the South Florida Water Management District Tuesday as part his push to put greater focus on environmental issues, especially the restoration of the Everglades.

DeSantis made the announcement at a news conference at Everglades Holiday Park, where he laid out a host of plans to improve water quality and the endangered wetlands. The governor promised a science-based approach and pledged more than $600 million in funding.

"It's something that really resonate across the state and resonate across state an political ideologies or parties," DeSantis said. "It something the people of Florida want to see, but I also think failure to act jeopardizes the vitality as a state."

Bergeron, who will represent Broward County, is a longtime conservationist and businessman. A onetime alligator wrestler, he previously served as a member of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The 75-year-old Bergeron is a native of Broward County and has been involved in the Everglades since he was a boy.

"As a young child, I remember my grandfather introducing me to the beautiful Florida Everglades. That inspired me to spend half my life trying to save the Everglades," Bergeron said. "We can't save the ocean, estuaries or rivers without saving the Everglades."

Days after being sworn in this month, DeSantis requested that all nine members of the South Florida Water Management District step down.

"My view has been, if they won’t see the light, make them feel the heat," DeSantis said.

DeSantis intends to make major changes to how the board addresses the state's water issues such as red tide, which fouled Southwest Florida beaches last summer and hurt tourism.

Earlier Tuesday, DeSantis named Chauncey Goss, a Sanibel city councilman, to the board to represent Southwest Florida.