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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|

Northern reservoir could address critical storage needs if concerns are addressed

Friends supports CERP and the restoration of the Everglades. Storage is an essential component to Everglades restoration, and most of the benefits of CERP are contingent on storage. Therefore, we take a keen interest in the North of Lake Okeechobee reservoir, known as the Lake Okeechobee Component A Reservoir (LOCAR). Friends of the Everglades has reviewed the DEIS in detail, and we have several concerns that need to be addressed before we would be able to support the project. As such, we have requested several changes to the DEIS prior to its finalization, outlined in the following comments submitted to the Army Corps of Engineers. Outlined concerns include: Include LOSOM and other CERP Projects To Accurately Assess Estuary Benefits Include [...]

TAKE ACTION: Tell Congress to end damaging sugar protections in the Farm Bill

For the better part of a century, the U.S. Farm Bill has protected billionaire-backed sugar companies at the expense of clean air and water in Florida. We have an opportunity to change that now — with your help. Join the movement demanding an end to sugar handouts in the Farm Bill by signing the Sugar Reform Now petition!  How does the sugar program negatively impact us?  Through price supports and strict import limits on sugar, consumers and taxpayers pay more — while sugar barons get richer. Windfall profits generated by the sugarcane industry, led by Florida Crystals and U.S. Sugar, are then used to buy influence over lawmakers. This protects the status quo that forces South Florida taxpayers to [...]

WERP must meet water-quality standards in Big Cypress National Preserve

Photo credit: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Today, Friends of the Everglades submitted comments to the Army Corps of Engineers in the wake of concerns raised during the Feb. 28, 2023, meeting of the Project Delivery Team (PDT) for the Western Everglades Restoration Project (WERP). It's essential for WERP to meet water-quality standards in Big Cypress National Preserve. This correspondence reflects our ongoing commitment to safeguarding water quality in the Greater Everglades. Restoration cannot succeed in the long-term unless the water is clean. To read our comments in full, click the button below:  

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: Wrong project, wrong place

Last week, Miami-Dade County Commissioners voted 8-4 to approve the South Dade Logistics and Technology District, effectively gutting the Urban Development Boundary in favor of sprawling, industrial development at the expense of our natural environment. The original footprint of the project, identified in the map above, has since been reduced in size from 800 acres to a 311-acre mix of warehouses, call centers and other commercial uses south of Florida’s Turnpike. Regardless, it remains the wrong project in the wrong place, with construction slated for “Coastal High Hazard Area'' in dangerous proximity to Everglades National Park, Biscayne Bay and ongoing Everglades restoration projects. As another tropical storm approaches Florida's coast, it's more clear than ever: It's reckless to bend [...]

LOSOM Update: An improvement, but not a cure-all

            An improvement, but not a cure-all For more than three years, Friends of the Everglades has advocated for a better Lake Okeechobee management plan — one that prioritizes public health and prevents the kind of toxic-algae crisis that devastated Florida in 2018 and years prior. We now have a detailed draft of the new plan, courtesy of the Army Corps of Engineers. In a nutshell: The Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual (LOSOM) will be an improvement over the existing plan — but, make no mistake, LOSOM will not be a cure-all. LOSOM will reduce, but not stop harmful discharges to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries. It will increase flows south to the Everglades, [...]

Environmental organizations provide a progress report on the Blue-Green Algae Task Force recommendations implementation

In early 2019, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis created a new Blue-Green Algae Task Force — made up of highly qualified scientists from around the state charged with issuing recommendations for addressing Florida's blue-green algae crisis. In 2019, the task force released a "consensus document," outlining recommended steps to do just that. And yet, in the nearly three years since then very few have ever been implemented. Today, a press release issued by environmental organizations including Friends of the Everglades criticized Florida leaders for failing to address critical water-quality concerns by not adequately implementing the recommendations of the Blue-Green Algae Task Force and announced the debut of the Blue-Green Algae Bloom Task Force Recommendations Implementation Progress Report As it states, "during [...]

Questions remain about the safety of LOWRP

On August 1, 2022, Friends of the Everglades Executive Director Eve Samples submitted comments to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on the Lake Okeechobee Watershed Restoration Project (LOWRP) Third Revised Draft PIR/SEIS. Earlier this year, Friends submitted comments that raised concerns about the risks and rising costs associated with implementation of Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) wells on this unprecedented scale. As referenced in the following comments, Friends of the Everglades remains concerned that additional scrutiny is necessary to ensure that the Army Corps has the needed scientific foundation to be sure that LOWRP will not adversely affect aquatic ecosystem, will be cost-effective, and will provide the claimed benefits. As the letter states, "Myriad questions remain about LOWRP's safety and [...]