WATCH NOW — What happened and what’s next with Lake Okeechobee discharges in 2024

https://youtu.be/ODJ1Vjs12YI From the desk of our Executive Director, Eve Samples, your Voice of the Everglades update: Let me start with a big thank you. When we asked you to take action in response to damaging Lake Okeechobee discharges this spring, more than 1,500 of you stepped up and sent messages to water managers. Your messages, and our direct pressure, made a difference. The Army Corps of Engineers — acting on advice from the South Florida Water Management District — announced it would halt harmful Lake O flows to the St. Lucie River, Caloosahatchee River and Lake Worth Lagoon through at least June 1. Only beneficial releases will be allowed to the Caloosahatchee, which needs some lake water to maintain healthy [...]

2024-04-15T15:27:02-04:00April 16th, 2024|Lake Okeechobee, Voice of the Everglades|

Young Friends of the Everglades inspires the next generation of Everglades advocates, one school at a time

An update from Friends of the Everglades Education and Outreach Director, Amanda Purnell: Our youth education program Young Friends of the Everglades has spent a busy spring sharing our passion for the Everglades with youth throughout South Florida. Whether in the field or the classroom, momentum is building among young scientists to protect our vital ecosystem.  In the heart of the Everglades, we spotted wildlife at Shark Valley on an open air tram tour and saw panoramic views at the observation tower. We learned Seminole history as we kayaked in Loxahatchee River Battlefield Park. We navigated the food chain as we dissected owl pellets at Tropical Audubon Society’s Bird [...]

WATCH NOW — Lake Okeechobee discharges are not a “necessary evil”

https://youtu.be/BUS0_v1IqSw?si=iJAP5wVP5sFaCHzq From the desk of our Executive Director, Eve Samples, your Voice of the Everglades update: It’s been just over a month since the Army Corps of Engineers opened the floodgates from Lake Okeechobee, causing polluted water to foul the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers and the Lake Worth Lagoon. As a result, water quality and salinity levels have plummeted in these fragile estuaries. Water that should be clear now has the murky hue of Yoohoo.   It’s an ugly scene — but the most dangerous conditions still lie ahead of us. About 15% of Lake O is showing signs of an algae bloom, mostly along the western and northern shore. As the weather heats up, that bloom will expand [...]

WATCH NOW — Floodgates are open from Lake Okeechobee — AGAIN

https://youtu.be/UdoHOYv2t0M This is the moment we've been bracing for. Last Saturday, the Army Corps of Engineers opened the flood gates from Lake Okeechobee to the northern estuaries — allowing billions of gallons of polluted water to flow, untreated, into the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie Rivers and the Lake Worth Lagoon. If you haven't seen these damaging discharges, check out our video footage from the St. Lucie Lock & Dam. A whitewater torrent is flowing from the gates, and it could continue until April 1. The Army Corps of Engineers is using these fragile estuaries as relief valves in an attempt to lower Lake Okeechobee ahead of rainy season. The effects are swift and violent. Salinity levels plummeted in 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 [...]

WATCH NOW: Dissecting the Florida budget numbers

https://youtu.be/w8T5nLzWR0I From the desk of our Executive Director, Eve Samples, your Voice of the Everglades update: The movement you empower at Friends of the Everglades hinges on a vision for the future of Florida:It’s about clean water, protected wetlands, thriving native species, and plenty of protected green spaces for us all to enjoy. In essence, it’s about a truly restored River of Grass that works with nature instead of against it. That vision is still achievable — but the window is narrowing. And Tallahassee lawmakers are making our work harder.There’s a disconnect between the decisions we’re seeing from the Florida Legislature and the environmental challenges facing Florida, as Executive Director Eve Samples told the Miami Herald last week. Even as [...]

WATCH NOW — Last call: SB 540 VETO requests

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G9eCeQIy86M From the desk of our Executive Director, Eve Samples, your Voice of the Everglades update: The clock is ticking. Last Thursday, May 9, state lawmakers sent “Sprawl Bill” 540 to the desk of Gov. Ron DeSantis, triggering a 15-day deadline for him to either sign or veto this environmentally reckless bill. If approved, the legislation would be the death knell for responsible growth-management in Florida — putting citizens at huge financial risk if they challenge changes to local comprehensive plans, which are the blueprints for growth in cities and counties. Much is at stake. Florida is the fastest-growing state in the country; it's ground zero for the climate crisis; and it’s undertaking the largest ecosystem restoration effort on [...]

WATCH NOW — A Postcard from Tallahassee

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T6N94KZSWL8 Greetings from Tallahassee, where the Legislature is heading into the final weeks of a high-stakes session — with troublesome environmental legislation still in play. We’re here at the Capitol this week, advocating against two especially concerning bills that threaten to erode what’s left of sound growth-management policies in Florida.  Our mission at Friends of the Everglades is to preserve, protect and restore the only Everglades in the world — including its connected waterways. That can only happen if we plan wisely for development, taking reasonable precautions to protect wetlands and wildlife. Unfortunately, the bills we’re tracking most closely would grease the skids for developers who propose sprawl that encroaches on Florida’s last remaining green spaces. The short video [...]

WATCH NOW — What the LOSOM delay could mean for the northern estuaries

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E0bcLGNbyYE From the desk of our Executive Director, Eve Samples, your Voice of the Everglades update: For four years, we’ve been advocating for a new Lake Okeechobee plan that addresses the risks of toxic algae and sends more clean water south to Everglades National Park. We were finally headed in that direction, with an improved (but imperfect) plan known as the Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual (LOSOM), which was supposed to take effect this June. Unfortunately, we now have to wait about six months longer — even as another algae season is brewing. Why the wait? A federal agency known as the National Marine Fisheries Service wants to take a closer look at LOSOM’s potential impacts on red tide [...]

2023-03-21T12:39:53-04:00March 21st, 2023|All Posts, LOSOM, Voice of the Everglades|

WATCH NOW — Why we’re concerned about Lake O’s toxic algae threat

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ArvKcEdIufY With Lake Okeechobee just under 16 feet, we’re concerned about what that could mean in the months ahead. We’re already getting discharges east to the St. Lucie and west to the Caloosahatchee in an effort to bring that lake level down. Though the Caloosahatchee does need some dry season flows to keep salinity in check, the nutrient pollution that comes with those discharges can be problematic. Making matters worse — there’s an intense algae bloom predicted on Lake O this spring due to heavy rainfall from Hurricane Ian that caused the lake to rise, bringing nutrient-loaded runoff from the surrounding areas with it and putting stress on the submerged aquatic vegetation. With wet season only 3 months away, we’re [...]