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Young Friends Update: Miami Beach 4th Graders Discover the Magic of the Everglades!

When did you fall in love with the Everglades? For more than 50 fourth-grade students from Miami Beach, that moment occurred recently at the Royal Palm area of  Everglades National Park. With cameras, ID sheets and a tool bag of resources, students and leaders embarked on the first-ever Young Friends of the Everglades-led field trip to Anhinga and Gumbo Limbo Trails. “Why does that alligator have its mouth open?” “What makes the water so clear?” “What kind of fish is that? Is it native or invasive?” “Why does the Everglades need more water?”  Eager questions like these empowered South Pointe Elementary teachers to build on essential classroom [...]

Federal toxic-algae standards would protect human health

Friends of the Everglades joined the Center for Biological Diversity and other allies in a formal request filed May 30, 2024 with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that seeks new, enforceable standards for cyanotoxins under the Clean Water Act. Cyanotoxins in blue-green algae blooms pose an acute threat to public health, with scientific research linking them to liver disease and neurodegenerative diseases such as ALS and Alzheimer’s. Despite the known and unknown dangers, the state of Florida’s approach to monitoring harmful algal blooms and issuing public alerts has been inadequate, characterized by fragmented and reactive measures. With this petition, we’re asking the EPA to use its authority under the Clean Water Act to do what the state of Florida has [...]

Will this be another Lost Summer?

Friends of the Everglades Executive Director Eve Samples joined VoteWater Executive Director Gil Smart and TCPalm outdoors writer/columnist Ed Killer for a panel discussion in Stuart on Lake O discharges, the politics of clean water and the prospect of another “lost summer” in 2024. With high water levels in Lake Okeechobee and a busy hurricane season projected, the risk of harmful discharges to the St. Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon are looming. But the May 1 event, hosted by the Council on Aging of Martin County at the Kane Center, focused on short-term and long-term solutions that we can all help advance. Friends of the [...]

STA capacity must be publicly addressed to fix the rigged system

We need you to speak up! On March 30, the Army Corps of Engineers closed the flood gates from Lake Okeechobee to the St. Lucie River, Caloosahatchee River and Lake Worth Lagoon. This pause is a testament to the power of public pressure.  Thanks to important input provided by stakeholders as well as the official recommendations of the South Florida Water Management District, only beneficial releases are resuming  to the Caloosahatchee and releases to the St. Lucie River and Lake Worth Lagoon will remain paused. We are grateful to the Army Corps for listening to our concerns and adjusting Lake O flows accordingly. But even with harmful releases temporarily avoided, the problem remains. Should the wet season [...]

2024-05-30T11:42:03-04:00April 8th, 2024|Action Alerts, All Posts, Lake Okeechobee, Toxic Algae|

Ask SFWMD Governing Board members to fix the rigged system

We need you to speak up! Since February 17, water managers have permitted the release of harmful discharges out of Lake Okeechobee, causing damaging declines in salinity on Florida’s east and west coasts and staining the fragile St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries and Lake Worth Lagoon with dark, polluted water. As Floridians eye the coming wet season, signs of an early algae bloom lurk in the northwest corner of the lake — a symptom that could indicate a disastrous and toxic summer ahead. This all-too-familiar scenario is the product of a rigged system.  There is a solution, and we need South Florida Water Management District Governing Board members to embrace it.  About 62,000 acres of taxpayer-funded stormwater [...]

2024-03-27T08:39:42-04:00March 27th, 2024|Action Alerts, All Posts, Lake Okeechobee, Toxic Algae|

Everglades Illustrated: piecing together the Toxic Puzzle

Documentary reveals potential solution to toxic algae exposure Every rainy season in Florida brings the threat of toxic slime in our waterways. At its worst earlier this year, Lake Okeechobee was covered in 400+ square miles of harmful blue-green algae blooms. Thankfully, Floridians have been largely spared in 2023 from large blooms entering the waterways to the east and the west of the lake, but the threat of damaging discharges isn’t over yet. Those of us living near the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie rivers and their canals, Lake O, and other waters previously tainted with algae know all too well the environmental and economic harm these discharges can bring. Green water clumped like guacamole, with dead fish at the [...]

WATCH NOW — A late-summer update on Lake Okeechobee algae

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nj3n2wLXXho From the desk of our Executive Director, Eve Samples, your Voice of the Everglades update: This is it — the most intense month of "algae season" is upon us. Weather patterns and water-management decisions in the coming weeks will determine whether or not the northern estuaries get a toxic deluge from Lake Okeechobee, where a giant algae bloom persists.   Lake Okeechobee stands at 15.3 feet, well above average for this time of year. If the lake climbs to 16.5 feet before rainy season winds down, the Army Corps of Engineers is likely to discharge massive volumes of polluted lake water to the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie rivers and the Lake Worth Lagoon. So far, we've been spared that fate [...]

The case for sugar reform is resonating on Capitol Hill

In late July, we took our fight for sugar reform to Washington, D.C., where we met with members of Congress and their staff to educate them on the damaging impacts of the sugar industry that are supported via the U.S. Farm Bill.  We traveled across the U.S. Capitol grounds to meet with Democratic and Republican members of Congress from around the country who heard our plea for a change in the 2023 Farm Bill. Our case was made stronger by you and thousands of others who have signed the Sugar Reform Now petition. The leaders we met with were struck by the water and air pollution linked to the sugar industry in Florida. They listened to how the [...]

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 [...]

Everglades Illustrated: Toxic Times Ahead?

The satellite image above from June 11, 2023, presages a grim tale. The algal bloom seen here covers an estimated 440 square miles of Lake Okeechobee which, amazingly, NOAA describes as a decrease from the day before. At just over 14 feet, Lake Okeechobee is higher than anyone is comfortable with at the start of Florida’s rainy season. Comparable levels in past years have led to many billions of gallons of harmful releases to the northern estuaries. Paired with the current concentration of algae in the lake, there’s a concerning likelihood we’re headed toward another toxic summer. Friends of the Everglades spent more than three years fighting for a new lake management plan, LOSOM, that considers the risks of [...]