The Everglades Deal in Trouble

A while back we noted that there was a snake in paradise insofar as Florida’s highly touted deal to save the Everglades through a massive purchase of land was concerned (The Everglades — Your Tax Money at Work, see )

Now, it turns out that the problem is much bigger than we could imagine. Today’s New York Times reports on the front page, above the fold, that the Evergaldes matter has grown more complex and messier. See Don Van Atta, Jr., and Damien Cave, Deal to Save Everglades May Help Sugar Firm,  N.Y. Times, March 8, 2010, at p. A1.

This is a huge article, taking up two pages, chock full of details involving everything from budgetary constraints to local politics, so it doesn’t lend itsef to concise abstracting, at least not at the moment — though we intend to go through it again, and add to this post as may be appropriate. But we recommend that if you have an interest in government land acquisition, whether by eminent domain or otherwise, you read this article for yourself in its entirety.

Suffice it to say for now that according to the New York Times, charges have been made that the appraisals for the state’s purchase of the subject land use erroneous figures based on comparable sales from 2004 to 2006, to update the appraisal down to 2009. The difference between those figures and the ones produced by another firm of (New York) appraisers comes to close to $400 million.

Then there is the matter of the cost of restoration. Quoth the Times:

“Paying for the land was only the beginning. A slide show prepared by the [South Florida Water Management] district on restoration projects and construction detailed one estimate that put the effort at $8.6 billion and another at $12.3 billion, according to records obtained by the New York Tines.”

And so it goes.

There is bound to be more on this one, so stay tuned.

Follow up. For a discussion of this topic on the Volokh Conspiracy blog, go to

For additional commentary on this news item see Holly Doremus, Conservation Deal Just a Sugar Fix?, Legal Planet, March 8, 2010; go to

Second Follow-up. A headline in today’s New York Times says it all: Board Extends Deadline For Everglades Land Deal, N.Y. Times, March 12, 2010, at p. A17. The reason (even if you put aside the controversial valuation reports): South Florida Water Management District’s tax revenues are down, from $553 million in 2007 to $460 million estimated for this year.