Since our founding by Marjory Stoneman Douglas in 1969, impact and integrity have driven our work at Friends of the Everglades. It’s how we gauge our success as an organization and ensure sound stewardship of your dollars.
We’re proud to report Friends of the Everglades continued that tradition this year with the following accomplishments. In 2022, we:
Successfully advocated for a new Lake Okeechobee management plan that, for the first time, considers the damaging effects of toxic-algae blooms and recognizes the need to send more clean water south to the Everglades. The new Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual (LOSOM) will be finalized in 2023, and while it’s not a perfect plan, it represents overdue progress for the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries and southern Everglades. MORE ABOUT OUR LOSOM WORK.
Helped kill environmentally damaging bills in Tallahassee, including:
A seagrass “mitigation” bill that would have made it easier for developers to destroy seagrass, with inadequate assurance that it would be successfully planted elsewhere. In light of Florida’s historic manatee die-off, caused largely by starvation, this bill was among the most dangerous of the 2022 session.
Senate Bill 2508, which would have protected outdated water-supply rules that benefit the sugarcane industry over the Everglades and northern estuaries, and posed a hazard to fragile wetlands throughout the state.
Pushed for an end to the unjust practice of sugarcane burning, which disproportionately harms the Glades region south of Lake Okeechobee, as detailed in the Pulitzer Prize-finalist investigation from ProPublica and The Palm Beach Post. Pre-harvest sugarcane burning leaves communities vulnerable to air pollution, health risks and economic stress. Our mini-docuseries, The Last Burn Season, featured community members who experience personal hardship from sugarcane burning. We also pushed for a repeal of the so-called Right to Farm bill, which Tallahassee lawmakers passed and Gov. Ron DeSantis signed in 2021, granting Big Sugar sweeping protections from lawsuits related to burning. WATCH THE LAST BURN SEASON.
Advocated to hold the line in south Miami-Dade. Our work with the Hold the Line coalition, which Friends of the Everglades co-founded, forced a reduction in the size of the South Dade Logistics & Technology District — a proposal to bring dense industrial development to hundreds of flood-prone acres of farmland in Homestead, well outside the Urban Development Boundary. We tried to kill this project altogether, but eight Miami-Dade County Commissioners neglected to vote in the best interests of the Everglades and Biscayne Bay. Now, we’re supporting a legal challenge, with hopes that the courts will succeed where the County Commission failed. MORE ABOUT HOLD THE LINE.
Kept commercial aviation out of Homestead Air Reserve Base. For more than two years, we’ve been working to block a proposal from Miami-Dade County to enter an agreement with the U.S. Air Force to allow non-military aviation at Homestead Air Reserve Base (HARB). Together with our allies, we made real progress. In November, the Miami-Dade County Commission voted to stop negotiations for the joint-use agreement at HARB, and this month the U.S. House passed a four-year moratorium on non-military aviation at the base, which sits between Biscayne National Park and Everglades National Park. READ MORE ABOUT HARB.
Evaluated action taken on the state’s Blue-Green Algae Task Force recommendations. Working with allies including Waterkeepers Florida, we determined only 12.5% of the task force’s science-based solutions had been enacted — leaving 87.5% unimplemented. We continue to push for the remainder of the recommendations to be adopted by state policymakers, to avoid another dangerous toxic-algae crisis. MORE ABOUT THE PROGRESS REPORT.
Created the Maggy Hurchalla Opportunity Fund to continue the late Maggy Hurchalla’s vision and life’s work focused on ensuring that sensible growth policies prevail — with the goal of preserving and protecting the Everglades and ensuring clean water for all Floridians. The fund will support legal work and advocacy to protect the wetlands and green spaces that Maggy protected during her lifetime. READ MORE ABOUT THE FUND.
Delivered our Young Friends of the Everglades program to more classrooms, bringing our Everglades Learning Exploration Kit to fourth- and fifth-graders across South Florida. The kits include four professionally illustrated, Florida standards-based lessons about the Everglades and Marjory Stoneman Douglas, as well as classroom sets of books and other activities. MORE INFO ABOUT YOUNG FRIENDS OF THE EVERGLADES.
As you can see, it’s been a busy and productive year for Friends of the Everglades. None of the accomplishments above would have been possible without your contributions.