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 salinity levels and prevent stagnant conditions.

How long will this reprieve last? A higher-up with the Army Corps told me he hopes they can keep the floodgates closed until fall, if weather cooperates during storm season. That’s a big IF. Hurricane forecasters are predicting a very busy storm season as conditions shift from El Niño to La Niña. The path and precipitation of those storms will determine whether the floodgates from Lake Okeechobee are re-opened.

With your help, we bought ourselves some time. Now, Friends of the Everglades will continue to push for lasting solutions to fix the rigged system and ensure water management and water quality are restored across the River of Grass, from Lake Okeechobee and the northern estuaries to Florida Bay. 

Since our founding by Marjory Stoneman Douglas in 1969, we’ve found power and strength in grassroots voices. Thank you for soldiering on with us as we work for a better future in Florida.