This week, the U.S. House passed a measure from U.S. Rep. Darren Soto, D-Fla., placing the Kissimmee River additional ecological protections by having it studied under the federal National Wild and Scenic Rivers System.
Soto’s “Kissimmee River Wild and Scenic River Study Act” moved through the House without objection on Monday.
“This is a major victory for our community and for our state,” Soto, who sits on the U.S. House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committees, said after the bill was passed. “The historic Kissimmee River is not only the heart of Central Florida’s water drainage route, it also serves as the headwaters for our iconic Everglades and it is home to many of Florida's endangered species. It is imperative that this natural treasure is preserved for future generations to come. Protecting the Kissimmee River is protecting Floridians way of life!"
“Over the past year, we have worked tirelessly to advance this legislation to safe guard our ecosystem,” Soto added. “I want to thank Chairman Bishop, Ranking Member Grijalva, and colleagues in the House Committee on Natural Resources on both sides of the aisle for supporting Florida’s waterways.”
Starting in Osceola County, the river flows into Lake Okeechobee and the Everglades. After Congress approved canalization of the river in 1954 in order to help with flood control, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dredged it in the 1960s and caused major damage with faster water flow. In 1992, Congress authorized restoring the river to where it had been before the Corps of Engineers began work on it.
With his measure now headed over to the U.S. Senate, the freshman congressman is continuing to advocate for his proposal.
“This river basin is critical habitat for recreation, wildlife corridors and to clean water flowing to the Everglades,” Soto noted on Tuesday. “It’s now headed to the Senate!”
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