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VIDEO: Is the Florida Legislature really doing the people’s work in Tallahassee?

https://www.youtube.com/live/VkKWZJcSTqY?feature=share There was a lot to unpack from this legislative session that ended on May 5, and not a whole lot of it was good news for Florida’s fragile environment. Today’s Friends of the Everglades LIVE focused on what went down and the ways you can still help us kill some of the worst bills that came out of this “Session of Sprawl.” As our Executive Director Eve Samples put it, “Our future as a state is at stake. We are on the front lines of climate change, we’re implementing the most complex and expensive ecosystem restoration effort on the planet in Everglades restoration, and we are not doing ourselves any favors if we allow more reckless development to [...]

Friends of the Everglades 2023 Post-Session Report

As we feared, the 2023 Legislative Session turned out to be the “Session of Sprawl,” as Florida lawmakers advanced legislation that facilitates inappropriate, environmentally damaging development proposals. Lawmakers passed several bills disempowering citizens, handcuffing local governments, and making it easier for reckless development to sprawl across the landscape: In line with our 2023 Legislative Priorities, we offer the following update and analysis on key bills: The worst bill of the session, Senate Bill 540, will, if signed into law, require citizens who challenge a local comprehensive plan amendment and lose to pay legal fees incurred by the “prevailing parties,” which could include deep-pocketed developers. This could end citizen challenges in Florida, paving the way for more reckless development. Friends [...]

WATCH NOW — Last call: SB 540 VETO requests

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G9eCeQIy86M From the desk of our Executive Director, Eve Samples, your Voice of the Everglades update: The clock is ticking. Last Thursday, May 9, state lawmakers sent “Sprawl Bill” 540 to the desk of Gov. Ron DeSantis, triggering a 15-day deadline for him to either sign or veto this environmentally reckless bill. If approved, the legislation would be the death knell for responsible growth-management in Florida — putting citizens at huge financial risk if they challenge changes to local comprehensive plans, which are the blueprints for growth in cities and counties. Much is at stake. Florida is the fastest-growing state in the country; it's ground zero for the climate crisis; and it’s undertaking the largest ecosystem restoration effort on [...]

Everglades Illustrated: Seeing Green (and not the good kind)

Dense blue-green algal mats clump up at the gates of Port Mayaca on May 4, 2023, in Martin County. Photo by Leah Voss It shouldn’t be normal that Floridians fear the threat of toxic algae in the summer months, just as we nervously watch for the approach of hurricanes — but recent, repeated history has given us good reason to be wary. Water managers raised the alarm earlier this year, predicting an intense summer algae bloom on Lake Okeechobee due to heavy rainfall from Hurricane Ian that caused the lake to rise, delivering pollution-loaded runoff from the surrounding areas and killing submerged aquatic vegetation.  Last week we saw signs that this unfortunate prediction may come to pass, [...]

An open letter from our Board in support of Dr. Tom Van Lent

We’re standing up for scientific integrity in the Everglades Dr. Tom Van Lent is among the most knowledgeable scientists in the world when it comes to America’s Everglades. In recent months we have been proud to work alongside him in his new role as Senior Scientist for Friends of the Everglades, where his expertise informs and sharpens our mission to save this unique ecosystem.  Yet this week, on May 10 and 11, Dr. Van Lent faces a hearing on criminal contempt charges brought against him by his former employer, the Everglades Foundation. Because we respect the Everglades Foundation’s history as a nonprofit colleague with decades of experience advocating for protection of the Everglades and South [...]

2023-05-08T16:05:46-04:00May 8th, 2023|Friends of the Everglades Statements|

Protect local fertilizer bans to protect Florida’s water

A clandestine attempt by Florida Legislators to ban rainy season restrictions on fertilizer use threatens to eliminate a key tool for local governments trying to curtail nutrient pollution. Tucked inside an “implementing bill” — which contains directions to implement the state budget — is a measure that would eliminate local governments’ ability to adopt strict fertilizer control ordinances for the next year. While this ban on fertilizer bans would expire after that, it may be followed by legislation designed to make it permanent — a move that would only benefit big fertilizer companies. Nitrogen and phosphorus-rich runoff can have serious impacts for surrounding water quality, and communities throughout Florida have relied upon rainy-season fertilizer restrictions to reduce excess runoff [...]

Gov. DeSantis, don’t disempower citizens. VETO Senate Bill 540

We need you to speak up! Senate Bill 540 , which the Legislature passed May 2, would be a death knell for citizen engagement in development decisions. It would make it almost impossible for average residents to bring challenges to legally flawed amendments to local comprehensive plans, which serve as the blueprint for growth in local communities. SB 540 undercuts the fundamental right to seek remedy from the courts if the political process fails. That’s bad for the future of Florida, bad for the Everglades, and bad for water and wildlife. It also flies in the face of Gov. DeSantis Executive Order 23-06, which called for protecting the long-term planning process that safeguards sustainable growth in Florida. To [...]

Your Moment of Everglades Zen: The Wonder of the Night Sky

The Milky Way stretches over Everglades National Park in May 2022. Photo by Anthony Sleiman. Discover the Milky Way​ Believe it or not, you can see comets, shooting stars and even the Milky Way in South Florida. This is one of many natural benefits Everglades National Park provides us. With 1.5 million acres of undeveloped land, the park is a haven for darkness and a chance to escape from all-consuming light pollution.  We just celebrated International Dark Sky Week (April 15-22), and this week's cooler weather provides an enticing excuse to visit Everglades National Park to experience the wonders of the night. (Note: The Shark Valley park entrance is closed May 6-23 for maintenance.)  Here are some [...]

2023-05-01T19:38:57-04:00May 2nd, 2023|Everglades National Park, Everglades Zen|

Friends of the Everglades joins call to veto HB 1191

Photo credit: Sierra Club On May 1, Friends of the Everglades joined Sierra Club and more than 30 other organizations in sending a letter to Governor DeSantis requesting that he veto HB 1191 - Use of Phosphogypsum. Phosphogypsum is the radioactive waste from processing phosphate into phosphoric acid for fertilizer. This bill would permit the use of phosphogypsum in Florida road construction. As the letter states, "While HB 1191 would require the Florida Department of Transportation to complete a study on the feasibility of phosphogypsum for road construction, the unreasonably short study period ending on April 1, 2024, cannot even begin to thoroughly review the health and safety consequences. To even begin the study would be a tremendous [...]