The Last Frontier

When authorities pledged to reflood the Everglades, they tried to accommodate residents of the 8 1/2 Square Mile Area in Southwest Dade. They're still trying.

"I think there is a sense that government was supposed to be looking out for them. But there is only so much government can do," Poole went on. "The trouble is, hindsight is always much clearer. At the time Everglades National Park was established [in 1947], this area was considered for acquisition. But for reasons I don't understand, it was excluded from the park. Whether or not the county commission should have anticipated the amount of growth in this area is a tough one to answer. Most of the development occurred during the Seventies, which was a very dry period, and I don't think [the county] paid a lot of attention to the area. Problem is, we're now in a period of wet years. The neglect of the area -- the benign neglect -- has turned out to be a severe problem."

But again, Poole was quick to point out that authorities aren't to blame for the current flooding conditions. "Their situation occurs because they live west of the flood-protection levee," he asserted. "It has nothing to do with ecosystem restoration." In studying the flow-way/buffer alternative, he added, the committee is going beyond any steps that have been taken previously, and beyond what is legally required. Clearly, he repeated, government is not the enemy.

But from the Water Management District director's weary expression, it was equally clear he knew he would not be able to convince the residents of this.

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