SFWMD governing board still short a member

WEST PALM BEACH — The Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) reservoir is on the agenda for the April 11 meeting of the South Florida Water Management District Governing Board

Once again, the inland counties will lack representation at the SFWMD April meeting. Gov. Ron DeSantis, who demanded the entire SFWMD governing board appointed by Gov. Rick Scott resign in January, has yet to appoint the governing board member to the position that represents Glades, Highlands, Okeechobee, Orange, Osceola and Polk counties.

Charlotte Roman, who is listed as the “at-large from Collier, Lee, Charlotte, Hendry, Highlands, Glades, Okeechobee, Orange, Osceola and Polk counties,” lives in Marco Island.

A review of the plans for the EAA reservoir is on the agenda under discussion items.

“The purpose of the presentation is to educate the board and the public on the status of the project and expectations and to gain understanding of the lease provisions,” states the agenda.

Also on the discussion agenda, the governing board will consider the future of the Water Analysis Resources Coalition. WRAC, a forum for discussion of water issues by stakeholders from throughout the district, has not met since November. In the past, WRAC meetings provided a lively discussion of water quality issues by invited guests representing a broad range of business, agricultural, environmental, tribal, governmental, recreational and public interests. Since the election, every meeting of the forum that was on the regular meeting calendar has been canceled

Items on the April 11 agenda also include the cattle grazing lease on 10,804 acres of state-owned land within the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes project area in Osceola County. The district currently leases the land to Bronsons LLC for low-density cattle grazing. Low-density grazing is one animal per 27 acres. The lease expires on April 20. Staff recommends extending the lease for approximately 20 months.

The governing board will also be asked to enter into a three-year $235,000 contract with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission for the purpose of evaluating largemouth bass movement, fish density, growth rates, and management targets in the Kissimmee River. According to the staff report, the local sponsor for the Kissimmee River Restoration Project, the district is responsible for carrying out the baseline and post-construction ecological studies and evaluations of the project.

Comprehensive fish studies are required to assess progress toward restoration goals and provide data to inform future operations of the Kissimmee project.

Workshop meeting today

At their March meeting, the all-new South Florida Water Management District governing board voted to bring back workshop meetings. The first workshop meeting is set for April 10, at 1 p.m. at the SFWMD office in West Palm Beach. In addition to the governing board and SFWMD staff, the workshop will include a panel of invited guests who will be allowed to participate in the discussion, including: Lt. Col. Jennifer Reynolds of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Tom MacVicar of MacVicar Consulting, Tommy Stroud of the Lake Worth Drainage District and Tom VanLent of the Everglades Foundation.

SFWMD Executive Director Drew Bartlett will act as facilitator for the meeting, taking written questions from the public in attendance at the meeting. If the question is not addressed during the presentation, the members of the public may speak during a limited public comment period.

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