Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced the state will purchase 20,000 acres of wetlands in the Florida Everglades from a private landowner.
Kanter Real Estate owns the land, located in a water conservation area within the Everglades protection area in western Broward County. The Kanter family will sell the land for $16.5 million before June 30, or $18 million after that date, according to the Miami Herald.
The governor’s office said the sale would be the largest wetland acquisition in a decade and will protect the wetlands permanently from oil drilling, which was the Kanter family’s intention. With the acquisition, nearly 600,000 acres of wetlands will be preserved.
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the agency that reached an agreement with Kanter Real Estate to purchase the land, had previously denied a permit for exploratory oil drilling on the site west of Miramar. Last year, an appeals court ordered the DEP to issue the permit, reversing the agency’s denial of a permit.
An expert hired by Kanter Real Estate testified at the time that there was a 23 percent chance of finding oil on the company’s site. When the Kanter family purchased the land decades ago, it planned to build a new city in the Everglades.
“Floridians know that oil drilling and exploration in the Greater Everglades is dangerous and must be stopped – it threatens our water supply and fragile ecosystems, especially in the face of climate change impacts,” said Cara Capp, senior Everglades program manager for the National Parks Conservation, in a press release.