Bad Bill Alert: HB 41 would limit citizens’ ability to challenge development rules

House Bill 41, filed by Rep. Alina Garcia, emerged as one of the earliest Bad Bills of 2023.  Identified first by our friends at VoteWater, “the proposal looks to be yet another sop to developers, prohibiting local initiatives or referendums on land development regulations. State law already prohibits such initiatives or referendums on comprehensive plan or map amendments, except those specifically authorized in a local charter provision enacted before June 2011. HB 41 would essentially expand this to any local push to change land development rules, and make it retroactive.” You can read the full analysis by VoteWater by clicking here.  

Spotlight On: Stormwater Treatment Areas

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9iAQdfAEZi4 What's an STA anyway? On the fringes of the Everglades Agricultural Area, south of Lake Okeechobee, sit tens of thousands of acres of man-made wetlands called stormwater treatment areas, or STAs. These marshes, managed by the South Florida Water Management District, were designed to use native and non-native aquatic vegetation to clean water of damaging fertilizer runoff from surrounding agricultural land and the polluted Lake Okeechobee, before the clean, fresh water flows south to nourish the River of Grass. They are a crucial tool for Everglades restoration and for protecting coastal estuaries. The STAs are arguably the most effective Everglades-restoration projects ever built by man — because they emulate Mother Nature. That said, their full strength will be [...]

2023-01-31T08:44:44-05:00January 31st, 2023|Science-driven solutions, Spotlight On|

Bad Bill Alert: HB 359 would punish citizens who challenge comprehensive plan amendments

Residents against the Rural Lifestyle amendment protest ahead of the Martin County Commission meeting Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2022, in Stuart. As the paving of Florida continues and often haphazard growth leapfrogs across the landscape, a proposed new law would supercharge sprawl by punishing citizens who dare question it. House Bill 359, titled “Local Government Comprehensive Plans,” was filed this week by Rep. Wyman Duggan, a Republican from Jacksonville. The bill stipulates that anyone who loses a legal challenge to a comprehensive plan — or comprehensive plan amendment — must pay the winner’s attorney fees and costs. Current law allows the winning party to recover court costs in cases filed by citizens who allege a development order violates [...]

WATCH NOW — Dissecting DeSantis’ executive order

We're hearing a lot of questions about Gov. Ron DeSantis' latest executive order on the environment. Will it curtail the pollution that's plagued Florida's water and air? Will it help restore the Everglades? How exactly will the promised $3.5 billion be spent? The success or failure of this cash infusion is entirely dependent on the projects it pays for. And, on that front, DeSantis is vague in the executive order. That's why tracking the money will be essential — and we're committed to it. Watch the 3-minute video take on the order below from Friends of the Everglades executive director Eve Samples, then check out this helpful analysis from our friends at VoteWater. Exactly four years ago, DeSantis issued his first [...]

Everglades Illustrated: Persistent Red Tide

Along the coast of Southwest Florida, red tide is lingering. Through January 6, 2023, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission detected low to high concentrations in 59 samples collected from Pinellas to Charlotte County, as detailed in the image above.  Conditions have varied since October when the blooms first appeared, due to ever-changing wind and currents that move blooms inshore and offshore, as well as up and down the coast. Marine animals and residents alike are feeling the repercussions, as fish kills and respiratory irritation reported by beachgoers are linked to the persistent blooms.  In Sarasota Bay, researchers have discovered that bottlenose dolphins tracked by marine scientists will “cough” and “sneeze” when they swim through strong red tide blooms, [...]

2023-01-10T09:25:51-05:00January 10th, 2023|Everglades Illustrated, Red Tide, Wildlife Habitat|

Your moment of Everglades zen: Rare moments of all play and no work in Chokoloskee Bay

Once a year, our Friends of the Everglades staff takes a group trip to explore part of the greater Everglades ecosystem. It’s a stark contrast to our daily grind — when we can be found most often behind our computer screens, studying the details of environmental challenges, projects and policies. It’s in these moments, when we are immersed in the places we’re working so hard to protect, that we find inspiration to carry on fighting. Our recent trip to Everglades City and Chokoloskee was illuminating. We found a taste of authentic Old Florida during our stay at The Rod and Gun Club in Everglades City, a sleepy town that boasts [...]

2023-01-03T13:32:31-05:00January 3rd, 2023|All Posts, Everglades Zen|

Close out 2022 with one final gift to Friends of the Everglades!

A roseate spoonbill explores the freshwaters of the Big Cypress Swamp on Friday, Dec. 16, near Clyde Butcher’s Big Cypress Gallery in Ochopee. As we move steadily toward the final days of 2022, we’ve got our eyes trained on new goals in the year ahead. In 2023, our focus will turn quickly to the looming 60-day state legislative session — a time when lawmakers consider bills that have a significant impact on Florida’s fragile environment. We expect the 2023 session, which will run from March 7 to May 5, to require in-depth analysis, citizen engagement and fast action. Rest assured, you can count on Friends of the Everglades to track important bills, highlight key players, and [...]

2022-12-22T11:19:09-05:00December 27th, 2022|All Posts, Florida Legislature, Marjory's Circle|

75 Marjory’s Circle members for 75 Years of Advocacy

Give the gift of Marjory’s Circle by dedicating a membership to a loved one this holiday season! By joining Marjory’s Circle, you’re committing to protecting one of the world's great ecosystems and sustaining the legacy of Friends of the Everglades founder, Marjory Stoneman Douglas. Joining only takes a couple of clicks. Your membership in this special giving society drives our efforts to preserve, protect and restore the Florida you and yours know and love. As a grassroots organization with over 53 years of integrity and uncompromising loyalty to America’s Everglades, there is no better circle of Friends to be in right now. This year we celebrate both the 75th anniversary of Everglades National Park and the 75th anniversary of [...]

2022-12-20T16:34:17-05:00December 21st, 2022|All Posts, Marjory's Circle|

A Conversation with Pulitzer Prize winning author, Jack E. Davis

Dr. Jack E. Davis is a professor of history at the University of Florida, and the Rothman Family Chair in the Humanities specializing in environmental history and sustainability studies. He is the author or editor of 10 books, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Gulf: The Making of an American Sea. Friends of the Everglades had the opportunity to host a live conversation with Jack during our Marjory Stoneman Douglas Legacy Luncheon on December 5, 2022, at the Woman’s Club of Coconut Grove. The conversation was especially meaningful as Jack is well-versed in the life and work of Friends of the Everglades founder, Marjory Stoneman Douglas, having written a 730-page biography about her more than a decade ago.  Jack is [...]

2022-12-19T09:03:33-05:00December 19th, 2022|Clean Water Conversations, Marjory Stoneman Douglas|

Friends of the Everglades 2022 Impact Report

Since our founding by Marjory Stoneman Douglas in 1969, impact and integrity have driven our work at Friends of the Everglades. It’s how we gauge our success as an organization and ensure sound stewardship of your dollars.  We're proud to report Friends of the Everglades continued that tradition this year with the following accomplishments. In 2022, we: Successfully advocated for a new Lake Okeechobee management plan that, for the first time, considers the damaging effects of toxic-algae blooms and recognizes the need to send more clean water south to the Everglades. The new Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual (LOSOM) will be finalized in 2023, and while it’s not a perfect plan, it represents overdue [...]

2022-12-15T09:00:59-05:00December 15th, 2022|All Posts, Friends of the Everglades Statements|

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