Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Why the Everglades was taken of the U.N. list of endangered sites

Maybe you heard last month that the United Nations decided to downgrade Everglades National Park from its list of endangered sites around the world. And maybe like me and many other Floridians, you said to yourself, "Huh?"

This St. Petersburg article by Craig Pittman article lays it all out. The head of the U.S. delegation to the U.N. World Heritage Committee -- Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Interior Todd Willens -- said reps from some of the other countries attending the meeting wanted the Everglades off the list because of the restoration plan that has been in place for the past seven years. (Never mind that it's going to take at least a generation for the Everglades to actually be restored.)

According to the article, some people suggested Willens requested the Everglades be removed from the list for political reasons, to make the U.S. look good. But Willens' defense -- that other countries wanted the Everglades off -- isn't really any better. If you ask me, why are people from other countries -- who might not have ever even been to the Everglades -- asking us to take our land off the list? And why did we listen to them and comply?

I try not to get worked up over a lot of things, but this one just doesn't make sense to me. (Neither does having the World Heritage meeting in New Zealand, which means the reps had to do a lot of polluting flying all the way to the South Pacific island just to have their discussions.) As the article points out, Everglades restoration is years behind schedule.

You could say the good thing is we don't need the World Hertiage Committee listing to help the Everglades -- we need more education. And that is true, except, of course, the people making these kinds of decisions seem to be the ones who need that education.

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