Florida Cabinet rejects State Road 836 extension order, threatening the Everglades

Today, Governor DeSantis and the Florida Cabinet voted to overturn a judge’s ruling, paving the way for a new expressway that will cut through Florida’s Everglades. Proposed as a solution for traffic congestion, Judge Suzanne Van Wyk previously found the proposal was out of compliance with Miami-Dade County’s comprehensive plan, posing a threat to sensitive Everglades wetlands and a major drinking water source for area residents. In total, the tollway is expected to shave a meager 6 minutes off the average commute time for local motorists once complete — a benefit that seems far outweighed by the potential to do great harm to state and federal lands acquired specifically for Everglades restoration. Friends of the Everglades, which supported the legal [...]

“Getting LOSOM right is a test. If we pass, we may succeed at saving the Everglades.”

The following comments were made during the June 10, 2021, meeting of the South Florida Water Management District Governing Board by Eve Samples, executive director of Friends of the Everglades. When our organization was founded by Marjory Stoneman Douglas in 1969, the Everglades were in dire peril: An international jetport was planned for Big Cypress, threatening to irrevocably cut off the flow of water to Everglades National Park. We won that battle, working with Friends and Allies who saw long-term value in preserving the only Everglades in the world. And today, we find ourselves at another point of inflection for the Greater Everglades. It’s become clear in recent weeks that Florida is in the throes of an escalating toxic-algae crisis. [...]

Florida Cabinet should pull the plug on proposed Kendall Parkway

At their June 15 meeting, members of the Florida cabinet will be faced with a critical decision: Will they vote to overturn a judge's ruling, paving the way for a new expressway that will cut through Florida's Everglades? Or will they vote to uphold Administrative Law Judge Suzanne Van Wyck’s March 2020 order, which rejected the proposed extension of State Road 836/Dolphin Expressway as inconsistent with growth management policies, possibly incompatible with efforts to protect the Everglades — and destined to  only bring “meager” improvements for South Florida commuters? Today, Friends of the Everglades sent a letter to each member of the Florida cabinet urging their opposition to the new tollway which could negatively impact sensitive wetlands that provide critical [...]

Stakeholders across the state unite to request an equitable Lake Okeechobee management plan

Photo taken by the Lake Worth Waterkeeper of blue-green algae at the Lake Okeechobee Pahokee Marina on April 26, 2021 Today, Friends of the Everglades joined Everglades advocacy leaders across the state, Congressman Brian Mast (18th District of Florida), and Congressman Byron Donalds (19th District of Florida) to urge the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to adopt a more equitable Lake Okeechobee management plan. In order to expedite restoration efforts, aid in conservation efforts on federal lands, and protect impacted constituents and economies, the new Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual (LOSOM) must send the maximum amount of water to the Everglades, Everglades National park, and Florida Bay during the dry season and eliminate harmful discharges to the St. [...]

Big Cypress must be protected from oil drilling threat

Photo by Luis G. Falcon This month Friends of the Everglades joined Center for Biological Diversity, National Park Conversation Association, Natural Resources Defense Council, and more than 80 additional organizations in signing on to a letter sent to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requesting that they object to the Burnett Oil Company, Inc.’s Section 404 Clean Water Act permit applications requesting to fill in waters of the U.S. to drill for oil in Big Cypress National Preserve. America's first national preserve, Big Cypress is part of the National Park system and a vital part of the Everglades. The proposed oil extraction activities are not in the public’s interest, and would be inconsistent with President Biden’s initiatives to combat [...]

It’s time for Gov. DeSantis to issue a State of Emergency on toxic algae

Photo taken at the Pahokee Marina 4-26-21 by the Lake Worth Waterkeeper. On April 26, 2021 the Florida Department of Environmental Protection reported the microcystin concentration at the Lake Okeechobee Pahokee Marina had reached 860 parts per billion — 107 times more toxic than the EPA recreational guideline for safe human contact. Just five days later, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported that the Lake Okeechobee blue-green algae bloom had expanded to an estimated 300 square miles as indicated by satellite imagery. These blooms present a direct public health threat to communities living around and downstream of Lake Okeechobee and waterways impacts by toxic Lake Okeechobee discharges. The near-term outlook for the co-occurring blue-green algae and red [...]

LOSOM must increase Lake Okeechobee flows sent south

The new Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual (LOSOM) will replace the current operating conditions outlined in LORS2008 in governing releases from Lake Okeechobee. Thousands of stakeholders have attended meetings and sent comments to the Army Corps of Engineers expressing the need for LOSOM to present a balanced, more equitable plan that protects residents from exposure to toxic algae blooms by sending more water south. Hard data, based on scientific modeling by the Corps, was intended to ensure that the new plan was rooted in solid science. Yesterday, Friends of the Everglades joined Stuart City Commissioner Vice-Mayor, Merritt Matheson, the Indian Riverkeeper, and Rivers Coalition in voicing concern to the Army Corps of Engineers that their current modeling for LOSOM will [...]

Environmental groups ask President Biden to Stop Expansion of Homestead Air Reserve Base

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE May 5, 2021 Contact: Eve Samples, eve.samples@everglades.org, 772-485-8164 **PRESS RELEASE** DEAR PRESIDENT BIDEN: Stop the Expansion of Homestead Air Reserve Base  MIAMI—Today seven national and regional organizations delivered a letter to President Joe Biden requesting his intervention to halt any actions by the US Air Force that could lead to the installation of commercial and private cargo operations at the Homestead Air Reserve Base in Southern Florida at the edge of America’s most threatened national parks. Everglades Restoration is the most ambitious program to restore a dying ecosystem in the world. Environmentalists have long opposed local government’s intent to convert the air base in Florida for industrial, private commerce, despite a decades long controversy that involved dozens [...]

Seaport preemption bills make a comeback as Friends of the Everglades joins calls for a veto

On April 27, Friends of the Everglades joined the Ocean Conservancy and dozens of other environmental organizations in sending a letter to Gov. DeSantis opposing a pair of bills, SB 426 and HB 267, that pose yet another legislative attack on home rule and the environment. The letter, which requests a veto of SB 426 and HB 267 states: "Florida’s ocean and coastal assets are a key economic driver for the state, as well as the foundation of the state’s cultural identity. Floridians live, work, and play on the state’s beaches and the reefs offshore, and visitors leave behind billions in contributions to the state’s GDP. Port authorities and local governments know their local waterways best. These waterways are the [...]

Friends of the Everglades Asks Gov. DeSantis to Veto SB 88

Even as we learn more about the detrimental effects of breathing in the smoke and soot from the burning cane fields, it's clear SB 88 represents an invaluable gift to the sugar industry. Today, Friends of the Everglades sent a letter to Gov. DeSantis requesting a veto of SB 88. The bill that would enact sweeping new protections for Florida farmers, shielding them from "nuisance lawsuits," sits on Gov. Desantis' desk right now awaiting his signature. The bill effectively protects “Big Sugar” from legal action related to its harmful impacts, like the class-action suit filed by residents of the Glades communities who argue that sugarcane burning causes long-term health problems. Though smoke from the burning cane fields can travel for [...]