Detente doesn't happen often in Florida's environmental wars, particularly when mining is involved. But a federal judge should approve the proposed settlement between Mosaic Co. and a collection of environmental groups that would create a new state park along the Peace River but also maintain good-paying jobs. Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet also need to embrace this compromise.
Just months ago, such a deal seemed impossible over Mosaic's plans to expand mining near Fort Meade in Hardee County. For years, environmental groups such as the Sierra Club, bolstered by findings by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that mining was harming the region's water supplies, had been challenging Mosaic's permit application with the U.S. Corps of Engineers. Then they took their case to federal court.
Finally, this week, they announced a compromise. Mosaic would reconfigure the mining expansion away from the Peace River and preserve about 70 acres of wetlands that are difficult to re-create or restore. The company also will buy the Peaceful Horse Ranch, a 4,400-acre ranch with 10 miles of riverfront property. The state Department of Environmental Protection had already added the ranch to the list of desirable acquisitions for Florida Forever, the state's conservation land program that has struggled to buy new property in recent years due to lack of money from the Legislature. The gift to the state will also come with $2 million cash, enough to prepare it for public use and operate it for a few years.
If the judge approves, Scott and the Cabinet should accept the ranch property on behalf of Floridians.