In the past year your support for Friends of the Everglades has made it possible to advance Everglades restoration in some critical respects.
Friends of the Everglades is a small, Miami-based grass roots environmental group founded by Marjory Stoneman Douglas during the battle to stop the Everglades jetport in the late 1960’s. Marjory’s goals– vividly described in her historic account, “The River of Grass”– guide us today. Our priorities are: to educate young students to the extent we are able, through our Young Friends program, and to hold government agencies accountable to the promise of restoring Everglades water quality.
Over the years, we have reached tens of thousands of students in Miami-Dade County. Our classroom presentations aim to ingrain the sense of wonder and a sense of stewardship for the Everglades in younger generations. We begin by helping students understand what makes the Everglades unique; a wilderness that exists nowhere else in the continental United States.
Protecting water quality requires citizens to apply common sense to the importance of taking a long view. Everglades restoration will take generations to accomplish, requiring clear and enforceable remedies to fix violations of law by state and federal agencies charged with protecting the environment.
There are no short-term fixes for fixing Everglades water quality. Our main obstacles are short-term thinking by businesses and government that often pay lip service to protecting the public commons as provided by law. Along this line, Friends of the Everglades is a plaintiff in major, precedent-setting federal litigation on water quality.
Friends of the Everglades is playing a central role in two federal court battles that have proceeded over many years, with respect to cleaning up the pollution caused by industrial farming (Big Sugar) and polluted stormwater runoff.
In 2010, federal judge Alan Gold affirmed the position of Friends and our co-plaintiff, the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians, and required the US EPA to produce enforceable remedies for sugar’s phosphorous pollution of the Everglades. Part of the remedy relates to water quality—the 10 parts per billion standard memorialized in federal law, that the state has failed to comply with—and part relates to water quantity—vast treatment marshes that can reduce the tremendous volumes of phosphorous pouring off sugar fields and from polluted municipal sources, including water from Lake Okeechobee.
With your support, in 2012, we will continue our course to hold government accountable to water quality standards necessary to restore the remnant River of Grass. In 2012, we hope that government agencies will pay greater attention to a pernicious poison afflicting the Everglades, methyl mercury.
Friends of the Everglades is reminded that in 1996, a majority of Florida voters amended the Florida Constitution to provide that Everglades polluters are responsible to clean up 100 percent of the pollution they cause. The Florida legislature has not lifted a finger to help enact the people’s constitutional amendment.
2012 could be the year, with your support, that Friends of the Everglades reaches even more young people in South Florida. With your help, 2012 could also be the year that the polluters pay for the full costs of their pollution of the Everglades.
Your contribution to Friends of the Everglades serves a very valuable purpose: to ensure that no stone is left unturned in the effort to force the state and federal government to back up its promises with results. Please contribute generously to Friends. You can renew your membership and/or make a contribution showing support securely online at www.everglades.org/donate. Also, please pass this message along to others interested in promoting our work preserving and protecting the Everglades for future generations.
Friends of the Everglades, President