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WWF Statement on the Retirement of U.S. Senator Bob Graham, Everglades Champion

Washington, DC - Responding to the today's news that Bob Graham, Florida's senior United States Senator, will not be running for a fourth term, Kathryn S. Fuller, President of World Wildlife Fund said:

"In his lifetime of leadership, Bob Graham has proven himself a true champion of the restoration of America's Everglades. Were it not for Senator Graham, we would not be anywhere near the point we've reached in the campaign to save the Everglades for current and future generations.

"The fate of the Everglades has reached a critical point this year. The loss of Senator Graham's leadership will deal a blow to the restoration effort, but we call on new Congressional leaders to step forward and fill his shoes to ensure that the irreplaceable habitats and wildlife of the Everglades are restored to health."

Graham, who also served as a governor and legislator in Florida, has a long track record of advocating for the restoration of the Everglades. The issue achieved state and then national prominence through the Save Our Everglades campaign led by Graham. His support for the work of the Governor's Commission for a Sustainable South Florida brought a diverse array of interests together to craft a blueprint for the future of south Florida. More recently, Graham is best known for authoring the "Restoring the Everglades, An American Legacy Act," which authorized the $7.8 billion Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan, and for fighting tirelessly for its passage in Congress.

The Everglades is now the largest ecosystem restoration initiative in the world. Senator Graham's continued leadership at the Senate level has been particularly important in the face of actions taken recently by the state of Florida that threaten to weaken and delay the restoration plan?s environmental benefits, and undermine the state-federal partnership the initiative depends on.

Graham's actions to conserve Florida's globally recognized natural treasures have extended to the Florida Keys, as well. The world's third-largest coral reef received protection under his leadership through the creation of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. For the first time in U.S. history, the sanctuary legislation authored by Senator Graham included a water quality protection program, recognizing the critical role pollution plays in the health of fragile coral ecosystems.

Graham also saw that curtailing the impacts of urban sprawl would be key to sustaining Florida's environment, and is widely recognized for having championed important growth management legislation in the 1980s that still plays an important role today.