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Ranchers agree to deal with Obama administration to help Everglades

Everglades The Obama administration on Thursday will pump $100 million into a little-known program that is going a long way toward redefining Everglades restoration.

The money won’t go to build reservoirs. It will go to ranchers.

In exchange, the ranchers will give up development rights to as much as 24,000 acres — some 37 square miles — in four counties northwest of Lake Okeechobee and preserve them under permanent conservation easements. Plans call for eventually converting what is often marginal pastureland back into wetland, where it will provide habitat for wildlife and absorb damaging pollutants that now trickle into Lake Okeechobee and the Everglades.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, scheduled to announce the largest outlay Florida has received under the Wetlands Reserve Program during a Thursday press conference in Palm Beach County, said the effort underlined his agency’s commitment to restoring the Northern Everglades and boasted benefits for industry and environment alike. More here from Curtis Morgan's story.