Your moment of Everglades zen: Evan Wexler brings Friends of the Everglades 2021 annual report to life

We know the bad-news reel gets old. It’s good to stop and remember what we’re working so hard to protect. Here’s your dose of Everglades zen. Each year, Friends of the Everglades puts together an annual report to document our accomplishments and support from the previous year. It’s an essential tool for conveying impact and helping supporters understand the value of their contributions. There is one piece of the project that is particularly fulfilling — choosing the images that help bring it to life. Because the Everglades is a remote and wild destination, it isn’t uncommon for supporters to admit to us that they haven’t actually spent a ton of time out there in this unique ecosystem. That’s where images come [...]

Martin County Commissioners should oppose “Rural Lifestyle” Amendment

Friends of the Everglades executive director Eve Samples delivered the following comments opposing the "Rural Lifestyle" Amendment to Martin County’s comprehensive plan at the Martin County Board of County Commissioners meeting on April 19, 2022. I’m Eve Samples, executive director of Friends of the Everglades, which was founded in 1969 by Marjory Stoneman Douglas, and is now headquartered in Stuart.  Our organization, which is dedicated to protecting the Everglades and its connected waterways — including the St. Lucie River — stands with our allies at 1000 Friends of Florida in opposing the proposed “Rural Lifestyles” amendment to Martin County’s comprehensive plan.  We thank Commissioners Sarah Heard and Stacey Hetherington for voting against this concerning amendment during its first public hearing [...]

Friends of the Everglades joins amicus brief opposing tollroad extension through the Everglades

On April 7, 2022, Friends of the Everglades joined an amicus brief in support of an appeal by Tropical Audubon Society to overturn the Florida Cabinet's approval of Miami-Dade County's proposed SR-836 extension. If built, the tollway extension would breach the county’s Urban Development Boundary (UDB) and intrude into a 13-mile stretch of Everglades Wetlands, formally known as the Bird Drive Basin. In 2020, we celebrated an administrative judge’s ruling against the proposed extension highway, which cited threats to wetlands and Everglades restoration and exposed the claimed transportation benefits of the tollway as being unsupported by the evidence. The ruling was a win for Miami-Dade County residents, Everglades restoration, Florida's drinking water supply, and crucial habitat for birds and other wildlife. [...]

Everglades Illustrated: The Scientific Uncertainty of ASR

Photo Credit: South Florida Water Management District The Scientific Uncertainty of ASR Each of the red outlines in the map above indicates a proposed cluster of aquifer storage and recovery (ASR) wells. Pitched as an answer to water-storage needs north of Lake Okeechobee, the wells’ feasible use within Everglades restoration and exorbitant cost have been at the center of heated debate in Florida’s environmental community. Proponents claim the technology offers a way to store large volumes of water deep in the aquifer — water that would otherwise pour untreated into Lake Okeechobee. But scientific concerns abound. Some experts say they’re inefficient and won’t have enough capacity to relieve toxic discharges, and they warn that metals dissolved in the [...]

Calls for DeSantis to Veto SB 2508 Strengthen

Friends of the Everglades has joined Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation, the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, and Calusa Waterkeeper in sending a letter to Gov. DeSantis strongly urging him to veto SB 2508. DeSantis previously blasted the nefarious nature of this bill and the way it was introduced for "short circuiting public engagement and leaving affected agencies in the dark." Though amended to remove some of the most harmful provisions, SB 2508 still poses risks to Florida’s fragile environment and threatens to undermine years of work to develop the new Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual (LOSOM) that could help relieve communities from toxic discharges and harmful algae blooms. Moreover, provisions that would allow the Rural and Family Lands Protection Program to [...]

Everglades in the News: Maggy Hurchalla special edition

It’s hard to imagine that it’s already been a month since the passing of our friend, mentor, and environmental hero, Maggy Hurchalla. As a staff, this loss has felt particularly close to heart for many reasons, not least of which is our compassion for her granddaughter Kym who serves as our Development Coordinator. Maggy was a frequent participant in Friends of the Everglades activities. She sat on our Science and Policy Committee, offering insight and advice to all manner of environmental issues that helped us deepen our understanding of the fights facing Florida’s natural spaces. She was a repeat special guest during our annual Stories from the Sawgrass event, delighting viewers with poetry recitations and first-hand accounts of wild adventures [...]

Remembering Maggy Hurchalla — We lost a legend

Maggy’s impact on Florida’s conservation movement cannot be overstated. She’s the reason developers can’t fill in wetlands in Martin County, and the reason I-95 bends away from Stuart. During her 20 years as a Martin County commissioner, she helped craft development rules that made the community a leader in the state for environmental preservation. Her advocacy was fueled by a deep love for Florida’s wilderness. She kayaked as often as she could, and spoke about the Everglades to anyone who would listen. Those of us who had the honor of joining Maggy for a paddle gained a new appreciation for the magic of mangrove tunnels, and we were often treated to a recitation of poetry by Maggy. She was inspiringly [...]

2022-02-20T11:11:05-05:00February 20th, 2022|All Posts, Friends of the Everglades Statements|

SB 2508: “How could Florida let this happen again?”

https://youtu.be/QGThHiUGxMY "How could Florida let this happen again?" In an egregious display of disregard for our state’s waterways, the Florida Senate Appropriations Committee voted in favor of Senate Bill 2508 today in Tallahassee. It’s a toxic stew of bad proposals that undermine Florida’s environmental protections and protect powerful industries — most notably Big Sugar. The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Ben Albritton, a citrus farmer, deflected pointed criticism from environmental groups, including Friends of the Everglades, and many fishing guides who attended the hearing to object. Albritton claimed opponents had been “misled” about the true intent of the bill — but he failed to dispel our concerns. The video above of Friends of the Everglades policy director Gil Smart outlines several of [...]

Letter to the Army Corps: Keep LOSOM fair and balanced

On January 21, 2022 we submitted a letter to the Army Corps of Engineers on behalf of Friends of the Everglades, Calusa Waterkeeper, Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation, Florida Oceanographic Society, and Conservancy of Southwest Florida articulating concerns regarding the South Florida Water Management District's proposal to create a 1.5 foot buffer zone in the Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual (LOSOM). During the LOSOM process, the Army Corps of Engineers has indicated it would be responsible for dictating the movement of water from Lake Okeechobee when lake levels were above a "Water Shortage Management Line." Once lake levels dropped below this line, management deference would be passed to the state. Now, in a move that feels like an eleventh hour bait-and-switch, [...]

2022-01-21T17:03:40-05:00January 21st, 2022|Friends of the Everglades Statements, LOSOM|

Friends of the Everglades end-of-year highlights

Our lives are multifaceted and we know it's tough keeping up with all the news. Here are a few recent Friends of the Everglades headlines. Stop the Burn in Glades communities. The Story. Six to eight months of the year, residents living south of Lake Okeechobee are subjected to smoke and ash as surrounding farms burn sugarcane for harvest. The harmful impacts of the “black snow,” as residents call it, create a myriad of human health threats and harm property values. That sounds bad. It is. And it gets worse. Legislation known as the Right to Farm bill passed in 2021 ultimately insulates the sugar industry from the harm it causes by shielding growers from “nuisance lawsuits.” As it stands, [...]

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