Almost half a million acres of sugarcane are burned for harvest every year in the fields around the Glades. Thick smoke looms, and ash rains down on houses, cars, and schools in communities south of Florida's Lake Okeechobee most months of the year. Insufficient protections for surrounding communities imposes air pollution, health risks, and economic stress on vulnerable residents — threats that are underscored by the current pandemic. Friends of the Everglades submitted the following letter to Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried to express our support for the expansion of real protections for communities most impacted by the pre-harvest practice of sugarcane burning, until such a time that pre-harvest burning is banned entirely. Click here to view the letter in full.
The Florida Bonneted Bat, one of the rarest and most endangered species of bat in the world, is relying on the designation of critical habitat in Florida, partially located in Everglades National Park, for its best chance of recovery and survival. Known for its large ears that push forward over a wrinkled face, this beloved species is at odds with rising seas and ongoing development across South Florida. Found in only a small number of counties in or around Florida’s Everglades, the bat’s exact population is unknown but is thought to be small and ever-decreasing. In the attached comments, Friends of the Everglades joined the Center for Biological Diversity and other conservation organizations in response to the U.S. Fish and [...]
Today, Friends of the Everglades stood with Congressman Brian Mast in front of the St. Lucie River in support of his newly-introduced legislation. The bill aims to prohibit toxic discharges from Lake Okeechobee to the St. Lucie Estuary and the Indian River Lagoon when microcystin exceeds the EPA recreational limit of 8 parts per billion. An advanced copy of the bill can be viewed here. With each passing year, we have accumulated more scientific evidence confirming the serious health threats posed by toxic algae blooms. Yet it’s still legally permissible to flood our communities with this toxic water. That's inexcusable. Congressman Mast’s legislation aims to stop that. These are not partisan issues. They are commonsense public-health protections. We support Congressman [...]
We need your help. The Army Corps of Engineers has formally recognized the serious public health threat posed by harmful algal blooms. As such, it is imperative that they move forward with a proposed deviation from the Lake Okeechobee Regulation Schedule (LORS 2008) that would allow for common-sense adjustments to the current lake management plan to avoid sending toxic algae to communities. The Corps is gathering comments from the public to help them finalize the proposed changes to current lake management. Your input can help shape the way the federal government manages South Florida’s waterways. If you’ve seen the impacts of toxic blooms, discharges to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee, or the collapse of Florida Bay and the health of [...]
Friends of the Everglades submitted the following comments to the Army Corps of Engineers to express our support for a proposed deviation from LORS 2008, allowing for common sense adjustments to the current Lake Okeechobee management plan in recognition of the serious public health threat posed by harmful algal blooms.
Thanks to all of you for joining us for another successful Clean Water Conversation. Today our guests, Dr. Walter Bradley and Dr. James Metcalf, covered the frightening topic of human health impacts related to toxic algae exposure. Many of you offered up your questions and concerns for discussion, highlighting very real fears that Floridians face due to toxic Lake Okeechobee discharges. The takeaway was direct and disturbing: these toxins present clear short and long-term risks to humans, to our pets, to animals that share these environments with us, and to crops that are irrigated with polluted water. We’re grateful to Doctors Bradley and Metcalf for their truly remarkable work, dedicated to understanding the dangers of HABs. They are [...]
For more than 70 years, the Army Corps has managed Lake Okeechobee without consideration for the health of those impacted in the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee watersheds and further south in Florida Bay. As a result, Floridians and their pets have been exposed to an array of serious near-term health threats. Additionally, researchers have linked toxins in discharged lakewater to increased long-term risks of liver failure, ALS, Alzheimer’s Disease, and Parkinson’s Disease. In our upcoming Clean Water Conversation, we’re offering the public a chance to converse candidly with harmful algal bloom (HAB) experts Dr. Walter Bradley and Dr. James Metcalf. We know Floridians have many concerns about Lake Okeechobee releases exposing people to dangerously high levels of toxins. Now is [...]
Statement from Eve Samples, executive director of Friends of the Everglades, on Gov. Ron DeSantis’ signing of the Clean Waterways Act (Senate Bill 712) on June 30, 2020: “The Clean Waterways Act is incrementalism at best. It does too little to curtail polluters, and too little to protect Floridians from the harmful effects of toxic algae blooms that have devastating effects on human health and the state’s economy. What’s worse: The bill was amended to preempt local governments from passing ‘Rights of Nature’ initiatives that could have empowered citizens to protect the natural ecosystems in their own communities. Senate Bill 712 does some incremental good by tightening up rules and penalties for septic and sewer systems — but it falls [...]
Did you miss today's Clean Water Conversation featuring author of "The Swamp," Michael Grunwald? No worries! We've got you covered. Thank you to all of you who were able to join us today. We invite you to revisit parts of the conversation, or share it with friends, with a recorded version, available here. Huge thanks to Michael Grunwald for sharing his time and his thoughts on what's changed (and what hasn't) since "The Swamp" was published in 2006. It's clear that we continue to face an uphill battle, but let's face it, he's right — “This place is paradise...we have to figure out how we can all live here sustainably.” If you enjoyed this event, please consider helping us fund the [...]
Marjory Stoneman Douglas was, at her core, an advocate for equality. Five decades before she founded Friends of the Everglades in 1969, she blasted corrupt politics and advocated for civil rights in her column for the Miami Herald. Marjory wrote about the injustice of “convict leasing,” a system of penal labor that overwhelmingly targeted black men in the United States, allowing a form of slavery to endure. She advocated to bring sanitary plumbing systems to poor neighborhoods of Miami. She also traveled to Tallahassee to lobby for women’s suffrage, undeterred by the unsympathetic state legislators she faced there. More fundamentally, Marjory recognized and spoke out against the devastating and multi-generational impact of slavery on black people in the United States. [...]