SFWMD partners with Cattleman's Association to clear land at no cost

To mow grass and clear vegetation on a 10,500-acre parcel of land needed for the C-44 Reservoir and Stormwater Treatment Area in western Martin County, the South Florida Water Management District is partnering with the Florida Cattleman's Association to harvest the hay and, at the same time, help ranchers through a drought-plagued hay harvest. The SFWMD Governing Board approved an agreement with JWS Agricultural Services, LLC for the removal of vegetation on the property at no cost...

STUART, FL, Feb. 27, 2008 -- To mow grass and clear vegetation on a 10,500-acre parcel of land needed for the C-44 Reservoir and Stormwater Treatment Area in western Martin County, the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) is partnering with the Florida Cattleman's Association to harvest the hay and, at the same time, help ranchers through a drought-plagued hay harvest. The SFWMD Governing Board approved an agreement with JWS Agricultural Services, LLC for the removal of vegetation on the property at no cost to the District.

"It's a win-win situation," said Melissa Meeker, SFMWD Governing Board member. "Not only is this agreement a fiscally responsible way to manage this project site, but the agriculture industry will benefit with no-cost feed for their livestock -- everyone involved benefits, including the cattle!"

At an estimated cost savings of $20 to $25 per acre to mow, the SFWMD entered into a license agreement with JWS Agricultural Services for the removal of vegetation on the property. It will take an estimated five to six months to mow the entire area.

"In this time of tighter budgets, it is important that the District look for innovative ways to leverage taxpayer dollars to accomplish our goals and mission," said Carol Ann Wehle, SFWMD Executive Director. "This agreement is not only creative, but most importantly, it does not cost the taxpayers of South Florida a dime."

The C-44 (St. Lucie Canal) Reservoir and Stormwater Treatment Area is part of Acceler8, the state's initiative to fast track the restoration of America's Everglades. The 3,400-acre, aboveground reservoir and 6,200-acre constructed wetland will capture, store and treat water from the C-44 basin to improve water quality, revitalize wildlife habitat and improve the health of the St. Lucie Estuary and Indian River Lagoon. The District has acquired 100 percent of the 12,037 acres of land needed to construct the reservoir and treatment wetlands at a cost of $168.5 million.

The South Florida Water Management District is a regional, governmental agency that oversees the water resources in the southern half of the state -- 16 counties from Orlando to the Keys. It is the oldest and largest of the state's five water management districts.

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