Northwest Florida Beaches Airport is situated 15 kilometres inland from famous white sand beaches, amidst dense pine forests and marshes. In 2009, as construction was underway, Journalist Hal Herring described the area as the ‘last undeveloped expanse of Florida’, the wetlands among the most biologically diverse habitats in the US, providing a haven for black bears, red-cockaded woodpeckers and the endangered gopher tortoise. Rivers, creeks and springs flowing into West Bay and among the cleanest in the country, are vital for inshore fisheries. When construction of the airport began in 2008 concrete was being produced on site at a rate sufficient to fill a mixing truck every two and a half minutes. By May 2009, two kilometres of slow-moving streams had been paved over. The porous wetlands were too fragile to support conventional building foundations, so earth was excavated and filled in with reinforced concrete supported by steel poles. The airport has one runway and the site covers 1,618 hectares, providing plenty of room for growth including two additional runways. Northwest Florida Beaches Airport was built in spite of six lawsuits from environmental groups and a non-binding referendum in which 56 per cent of citizens rejected the project. Opponents of the airport were outraged by the wording of the question posed by the referendum, as it stated there would no cost to taxpayers. The voters were misled. Construction of the airport cost about USD318 million, from a variety of federal, state and local government sources in approximately equal amounts. Linda Young, Director of Clean Water Network of Florida (CWN), a coalition of 155 groups committed to safeguarding water resources, said ‘decision-makers have been hoodwinked into spending vast sums of public money on an environmentally destructive fiasco’.