FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 6, 2001
(WASHINGTON) Interior Secretary Gale Norton today reinforced the Bush administration's strong commitment for Everglades restoration and named her counselor, Ann Klee, as chairman of the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Task Force, an intergovernmental body established by Congress to coordinate the restoration effort.
This week, Norton sent letters inviting the six other federal partners to appoint members to the task force. Norton also sent letters inviting members of the South Florida congressional delegation to participate in the task force's next meeting on January 16.
"The Interior Department is strongly committed to Everglades restoration. So much so, I've appointed a member of my immediate staff as task force chairman," Norton said. "Ann will work hand in hand with Rock Salt, the task force's executive director, and our other South Florida partners to help ensure a successful restoration process."
Norton noted that the administration shepherded through Congress a $31.4 million, or 37 percent, increase in the Interior Department's budget for Everglades restoration for Fiscal Year 2002.
"The Interior Department's actions, in both funding and personnel, confirm that the federal government has never been more dedicated to restoring the Everglades. Through continued cooperation and partnership, together we'll make it a reality," Norton said.
Prior to serving as counselor to Norton, Klee served as chief counsel to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee during last year's authorization of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan. She also developed legislative plans for the Committee on Clean Water Act, hazardous waste issues, the National Environmental Policy Act and the Endangered Species Act. Prior to her work on Capitol Hill, Klee was a partner and chair of the Environmental Group in the Washington law office of Preston Gates & Ellis.
"With a re-energized task force and the significant involvement of our partners and local people, we will build consensus for collaborative decision making to restore the Everglades," Norton said.
The South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Task Force works to develop consensus among government agencies dedicated to restoring the South Florida ecosystem. It is charged with coordinating policies, strategies, plans and projects related to the restoration, facilitating the resolution of interagency and intergovernmental conflicts, and coordinating scientific research.
As chairman, Klee will work closely with Salt and other key Interior staff, including Attorney-Advisor Don Jodrey, Fish and Wildlife Service Regional Director Sam Hamilton, National Park Service Regional Director Jerry Belson, Everglades National Park Superintendent Maureen Finnerty, Big Cypress National Preserve Superintendent John Donahue, Fish and Wildlife Service Field Supervisor Jay Slack and U.S. Geological Service Supervisory Ecologist Ronnie Best.
"We have a great team of Interior senior professionals with extensive experience to work with state and local leaders," Klee said. "Rock, Maureen and Jay will be the core of our South Florida management team, and I look forward to working closely with them, our state and tribal partners and the numerous other stakeholders to achieve our shared goal of restoring the Everglades for future generations of Americans to enjoy and cherish."
NOTE: You can view our releases or subscribe to receive them -- via e-mail -- at the Service's Southeast Regional home page at http://southeast.fws.gov. Our national home page is at: http://news.fws.gov/newsreleases/.
Atlanta, GA 30345
Phone: 404/679-7289 Fax: 404/679-7286