Friends of the Everglades 2024 Florida Legislature: Mid-session report

We feared the worst, but it hasn’t (yet?) come to pass. And some of the credit goes to you. Several of the worst bills we identified in our pre-session report haven’t moved; others have seen their momentum begin to wane. And one of the worst proposals out of Tallahassee this session was effectively neutered after Friends of the Everglades and other conservation groups helped generate thousands of phone calls and emails to legislators. Senate Bill 738 and its House twin, HB 789, initially stipulated that anyone challenging a permit or other “authorization” by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection or a water management district would have to pay the legal fees of the agencies and any other “intervenors” (like [...]

Your moment of Everglades Zen: “Creatures of Mud and Starlight”

Photo by Anthony Sleiman. Autumn Bryan You've probably heard us sing the praises of our first-ever Karen Mashburn Environmental Scholar recipient, Autumn Bryan. During her time as a Friends of the Everglades intern, Autumn provided invaluable contributions to our Young Friends program, which included her leadership in the launch of our new Library Learning Kits. The Library Learning Kits, available in Martin, Palm Beach, and Broward County libraries, include Marjory Saves the Everglades by Sandra Neil Wallace, animal figures, and lessons for children. They are made all the more inspiring with the addition of original poetry by Autumn. Her poems narrate the unique wonder and beauty of the Everglades, celebrating its creatures large and small, [...]

Shoreline armoring protects private property over Florida’s public beaches

Friends of the Everglades joined the Surfrider Foundation, Center for Biological Diversity and the Sea Turtle Conservancy in signing onto the following letter in opposition to to the Extension of the Hurricane Restoration Reimbursement Grant Program. The program in question provides grants to eligible private beachfront property owners to carry out dredge and fill projects (“sand placement”), as well as temporary and permanent armoring projects to protect their private properties. As the letter states, "Shoreline armoring only protects upland private property. It does not protect the public beach or mitigate public beach erosion. In fact, shoreline armoring adversely impacts beaches and public trust tidelands by exacerbating erosion. It also results in “coastal squeeze,” as sea levels rise... referring to [...]

2024-01-31T15:07:02-05:00January 31st, 2024|All Posts, Friends of the Everglades Statements|

WERP water quality concerns remain

Today, Friends of the Everglades submitted comments to the Army Corps of Engineers in response to the Western Everglades Restoration Project Draft PIR/EIS. Our comments reflect our continued concern that this project must meet water-quality standards so as not to adversely impact water quality in the ecologically delicate region of the Western Everglades, including Big Cypress National Preserve. In part, the letter states, "Restoration cannot succeed over the long term unless the water is clean — nor can it succeed if water quantity, timing, and distribution are distorted to dodge the responsibility for clean water. The proposed Western Everglades Restoration Plan falls short because of the decision to pass the water-quality problems to the next generation, which simply perpetuates the [...]

Miami Herald op-ed: A vicious legal battle is the result of putting politics over science

The following op-ed was published in the Miami Herald on January 22, 2024. As scientists with collectively more than five decades of experience in the Everglades, we know the critical importance of transparency in science. Restoring the Everglades is the most complex ecosystem restoration project on the planet. It’s expected to cost taxpayers $23 billion (and counting). The merits or shortcomings of any Everglades project must be openly vetted to ensure the public interest is served.  The crux of that vetting is science.  Withholding or distorting science to fit politically palatable outcomes does not serve the greater good. The open exchange of research, models and data is the accepted gold standard.  That’s why the legal action brought by the [...]

2024-01-29T15:21:16-05:00January 29th, 2024|Everglades Restoration, Science-driven solutions|

House Bill 789 amended thanks to you!

Chalk one up for the clean water cause! One of the worst bills of Florida’s legislative session is on the cusp of wholesale changes that would defang it. House Bill 789, filed by Rep. Toby Overdorf, initially sought to stifle environmental lawsuits by forcing anyone who challenges and loses a decision by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection or a water management district to pay the “prevailing party’s” legal fees. There are already provisions in state law to prevent frivolous lawsuits — so the only reason we saw for this bill was to grease the skids for developers and polluters. Another problematic part of the bill was Section 4, which would have required FDEP and water management districts to conduct [...]

Tell Rep. Stevenson to keep HB 789 off her committee’s agenda

We need you to speak up! One of the worst bills of the legislative session might get its first committee hearing this week — but you can help head it off at the pass. House Bill 789, sponsored by Rep. Toby Overdorf, would force anyone who challenges and loses a Florida Department of Environmental Protection or water management district decision to pay the other side’s legal fees. It would intimidate citizens and effectively prevent them from filing a challenge, because they literally can’t afford to lose. The bill is bad for other reasons, too. It may run afoul of a federal Environmental Protection Agency proposal which states that this sort of “fee shifting” blocks access to the [...]

WATCH NOW: Wetlands and waterways on the chopping block this legislative session?

https://www.youtube.com/live/mtzUEzFoCJY?si=mwb2bPvLpU2fBBCM Florida's 2024 legislative session began today in Tallahassee — marked by a flurry of bad bills that take aim at important Everglades issues like wetlands protections and growth management.  Today's livestream led us through the worst of the worst filed bills, highlighted key players to watch and reminded viewers of the importance of citizen participation. Legislative Accountability is vitally important to environmental protection and the future of Florida. At Friends of the Everglades, we work hard to help the public understand dense policy measures and how they impact both the natural world and the human environment. As session progresses, we’ll keep our eyes trained closely on the legislation that poses the greatest threats, and we hope you'll follow [...]

Friends of the Everglades 2024 Legislative Preview

Florida’s annual 60-day legislative session begins January 9. In line with our 2024 Legislative Priorities, we offer the following analysis of bills that have been filed. JUMP TO: Protect wetlands Get serious about toxic algae Fix our failing BMAPs Don't ban fertilizer bans Smarter, controlled development Stop sugarcane burning Send more clean water south Other Priorities Priority: Protect wetlands The state must Reject any attempt to preempt local authority on wetlands. To achieve this goal, we recommend the following positions on bills pending before the Legislature: HB 527: Land and Water Management - OPPOSE Sponsor: Rep. Randy Maggard, R-54 Synopsis: Requires wetlands buffer zones established by county or municipality to be acquired through eminent domain; preempts regulation of specified [...]