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 [...]

Save the Deep-sea Oculina Coral reefs from trawling

Friends of the Everglades joined 37 organization in signing a letter asking NOAA to oppose the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council’s proposed Amendment 10 to the Coral, Coral Reefs, and Hard Bottom Fishery Management Plan which would allow shrimp trawlers to destroy the last deep-sea Oculina reefs off Florida. As the letter states, The Oculina Bank off the east coast of central Florida is the only known place in the world where deep-sea Oculina varicosa form reef structures. This one-of-a-kind ecosystem supports marine life throughout the region well beyond the reef itself. A single 12-inch coral can host up to 2,000 animals, including small fish, crabs, shrimp, and mollusks—many of which are food for higher trophic levels. Oculina Bank is [...]

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 [...]

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