MIAMI, Fla. (July 21, 2022) –The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District hosted Mitch Landrieu, White House Sr. Advisor and Infrastructure Implementation Coordinator, Jaime A. Pinkham, The Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works), U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-23), The Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida Lawmaker Pete Osceola Jr., and Everglades Foundation Chief Executive Officer Eric Eikenberg along with state, local leaders and key Everglades partners for a project overview and tour inside the Everglades in Miami-Dade County.
The Miccosukee Tribe hosted an airboat tour with Congress woman Wasserman Shultz for a visit to Tiger Tail Island, a press event at the Village Amphitheater, and a luncheon roundtable discussion at the Miccosukee Indian School in celebration of increased funding for restoration efforts.
During the middle of the tour, Petties Osceola, Jr., Lawmaker of the Miccosukee Tribe explained the history of the Miccosukee Indians, the culture, lifestyle, history of the Tribe and the connection to the Everglades, nicknamed the “River of Grass.”
Osceola Jr., explained in a group meeting in the middle of the Everglades “the River of Grass,” with White House representatives, local political leaders, and other groups, tribal leaders said the $1.5 billion of recent funding approved earlier this year for Everglades projects was going toward more than just restoring the environment. It also was helping preserve a way of life and culture.
Osceola told the group, he grew up hunting frogs, turtles, and gators with spears in the Everglades. But over the decades, he saw the Everglades decline, saying waters tainted by farming and suburban runoff had harmed the natural system and even sickened many tribe members.
“I want to thank you for your efforts in helping us take care of the Everglades, “said Osceola. “This is a step in the right direction toward preservation and we are happy about it.”
Landrieu lauded President Biden and said his goal is to communicate, collaborate and coordinate more effort to spearhead the massive influx of $1.5 billion funding for the long-running and oft-stalled state-federal effort to restore the Everglades. The latest money for the $10 billion-plus project was approved by Congress in May as part of the Biden administration’s infrastructure bill. It will pay for a number of projects expected to be completed by 2029.
“I am thrilled to be here on the Presidents behalf, thankful to him and honored to be tasked with coordinating the largest infrastructure investment in generations,” said Landrieu. “Our work will require strong partnerships across the government and with state and local leaders, business and labor to create good-paying jobs and rebuild America for the middle class. We will also highlight and ensure these major investments achieve the President’s goals of restoring the Everglades, combating climate change and advancing equity.”
Wasserman Schultz, who help coordinate the tour, thanked the Corps of Engineers leadership for their continued work in the Everglades and said it was vital for all of South Florida to save the Everglades.
“The Everglades is not only a central habitat for fish and wildlife, it’s a system that provides drinking water for millions of Floridians. It protects all our communities, but increasingly intense hurricanes and floods,” said Wasserman Schultz.
Pinkham, said he came down to South Florida to show his support and make sure he remains connected to the people from the Corps of Engineers who have been entrusted with the resources, the science and the partnerships to carry forward this.
"It has been my honor to have the opportunity to come be a part of this event," said Pinkham. "The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is doing a great job."
Pinkham was appointed to the position of Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works on April 19, 2021. As the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, he assists in establishing policy direction and supervision over the Department of the Army functions relating to all aspect of the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers' Civil Works program. These responsibilities include programs for conservation and development of the nation's water and wetland resources, flood control, navigation and aquatic ecosystem restoration.
Other attendees: Jay Shannon, Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, Stephanie Sykes Director of Intergovernmental Affairs, Infrastructure Implementation, White House, Pedro Ramos, Vice Mayor, Jimmy Morales, Miami-Dade County, and Miccosukee Tribal Chairman, Talbot Cypress,
Everglades supporters and representatives: Everglades Foundation, Eric Eikenberg, Bradley Watson and Scientist, Stephen Davis, Friends of the Everglades, Director Eve Samples, National Parks Conservation Association, Marisa Carrozzo, Everglades Law Center, Sierra Club and Miami Water Keeper.
(The public can obtain news, updates and information from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District on the district’s website at https://www.saj.usace.army.mil/, on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/JacksonvilleDistrict and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/JaxStrong.