OCHOPEE, Fla. — U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke picked up a machete to help clear a swamp buggy trail in the Big Cypress National Preserve.

Friday’s stop in the preserve was the second part of Zinke’s three-day Florida tour to assess hurricane damage and Everglades restoration projects.

Last month, Hurricane Irma waterlogged the coastal preserve and pushed trees into maintenance trails. The National Weather Service in Miami says Irma dropped over 10 inches of rain over the area, on top of 6 feet of storm surge.

Zinke said President Donald Trump was committed to fast-tracking costly and long-delayed Everglades restoration projects. He said the administration would remove bureaucratic obstacles to restoring natural freshwater flows through the wetlands.

Preserve employees applauded Zinke’s announcement that new park service uniforms better suited to the humid, mosquito-infested climate were being designed.

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JENNIFER KAY
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