17 Years of Leadership… “Farewell,” Mr Leon Abood, The Rivers Coalition, SLR/IRL

Leon Abood served as the chair of the Rivers Coalition for 17 years. (1998-2015) (Headshot for real estate business)
Leon Abood served as the chair of the Rivers Coalition for 17 years. (1998-2015)

Today and will share some history, and today I will honor Mr Leon Abood, who has led the Rivers Coalition of Martin County for the past seventeen years…

In 1998 a terrible thing was happening. An uncanny number of fish in the St Lucie River had lesions, and for the very first time, numerous algae blooms were being reported the river. The ACOE and SFWMD had been releasing fresh water from Lake Okeechobee into the estuary for a longer period of time than “typical” due to high rains and high water levels in Lake Okeechobee; this had occurred before, but this time something was different. Really different.

“Fish with lesions? Disgusting. And those poor fish! What’s going on?”

RC
RC handout 2005.

Fishermen were confused and furious; the public was just learning the extent of the problems in their beloved St Lucie River; and real estate agents were desperate because they could not sell houses. All were watching the economic vitality of Martin County and its essential natural system (that brought residents here in the first place) collapse.

The standing motto of the day became: ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!

Agencies as usual declared uncertainty of why the fish were so sickly, everyone looking at everyone else…In time, very quietly, studies did verify that high levels of fresh water in brackish systems allow a bacteria to grow that promotes lesions, as a fish’s delicate slime coat is compromised….It was Lake Okeechobee exacerbated by the other canals….

This is taken into account today before decisions are made…When possible, “pulse releases” became more common rather than giant long-lasting slugs of water into the system….

As far as “the river,” other groups had been fighting for the St Lucie River/Southern Indian River Lagoon since the 1950s, but now it was time for “business!”

In a fit of fury and desperation, the Realtor Association, on May 12th, 1998, formed the “Rivers Coalition.” The group was built from the earlier formed El Nino Task Force and focused on group rather than individual membership.

Leon Abood, Realtor, was named chair.

Article Palm Beach Post 2013: (http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/news/local/rivers-coalition-continues-fight-to-save-estuary-a/nW3sQ/)

Founding members in 1998 included the St Lucie River Initiative, the Realtor Association of Martin County; Stuart/Martin Chamber of Commerce; Treasure Coast Builders Association; Martin County Conservation alliance; Economic Council; Florida Oceanographic Society; Marine Industries Association; Audubon of Florida; Audubon of Florida; and the Martin County Farm Bureau.

DEP C-44 Canal/SLR history and lesioned fish: (http://www.dep.state.fl.us/southeast/ecosum/ecosums/C-44%20Canal%20.pdf)

Leisoned fish St Lucie River, 1998, From FWC, RC files.
Leisoned fish St Lucie River, 1998, From FWC, RC files.
Photograph of fish from SLR 1998, DEP C-44.
Photograph of fish from SLR 1998, DEP C-44. See link above to read about this.

Leon has led the coalition through the horrors of fish lesions, toxic algae blooms, releases from Lake Okeechobee and area canals, along with Mr Karl Wickstrom–a law-suit against the federal government, and has been the face and front man of the river for a confused and desperate public. His calm and authoritative demeanor gives people confidence. He is a true leader, calm when surrounded by controversy and sharks at every turn.

Leon’s goal has always been that all stakeholders are to take part: business, environmental, and residential…. and to bring information forward for the public so they can make “logical and intelligent decisions about what is going on.” He has helped achieve this important goal. —And without information and discussion there is no change…

Quote
Quote

Since 1998, the Rivers Coalition has grown and evolved but always remained a consistent “voice for the river.” Without the voice the Rivers Coalition, our river situation would not have the statewide recognition and there would not be the pressure on government to fix the problems.

We all know, it is a problem of monumental proportion, TO MOVE WATER SOUTH and not through our estuary,  that will take generations. Knowing this, Leon Abood gave the first “go ahead” to support the River Kidz in 2011 so they could one day “take the baton.”

River Kidz listen to Mr Abood at St Lucie Locks and Dam protest of Lake O. 2014.
River Kidz listen to Mr Abood at St Lucie Locks and Dam protest of Lake O. 2014.(Photo Darrell Brand)
Leon Abood holds map of South Florida. Rally/protest St Lucie Locks and Dam 2103. (Photo Darrell Brant)
Leon Abood holds map of South Florida. Rally/protest St Lucie Locks and Dam 2103. (Photo Darrell Brand)

Please read more about Leon Abood and the accomplishments of the Rivers Coalition below on Rivers Coalition link.

Leadership for the future will be made soon. Leon will not walk-away until he has given his blessing and guided new leadership. After 17 years of investing heart and soul it’s not as easy as “passing the baton,” and the River Kidz are just a tad too young. We are going to need some leaders just a bit older….:) He has a few in mind…

Why is he leaving?

After 17 years, he is tired. And Leon simply wishes to spend more time with his wife Georgia, a well-known artist; they love to travel to Europe specifically Paris and Italy. What do they say in real estate? In life too, “Time is of the Essence….”

Thank you Leon, you will never be replaced, and you will always be remembered!

Know the Rivers Coalition will have a rebirth with you always at its side.

Rivers Coalition: (http://riverscoalition.org)

Leon Abood: (http://www.luxuryrealestate.com/profiles/595-leon-abood)
____________________________________

JTL is an ex-officio member of the Rivers Coalition Defense Fund

SLR DEP Evidence of impairment:(http://www.dep.state.fl.us/southeast/ecosum/ecosums/SLE_Impairment_Narrative_ver_3.7.pdf)

7 thoughts on “17 Years of Leadership… “Farewell,” Mr Leon Abood, The Rivers Coalition, SLR/IRL

  1. Friend, mentor, inspiration… folks just don’t come any finer than Leon Abood. It has been an Honor to serve our Community together under his Leadership and Direction. Leon has made a huge difference in our Community, choosing speakers, devising programs, creating events and educating the 100’s of thousands of our local Citizens that Rivers Coalition represents. Leon has stood tall as our VOICE to the Community, he will be missed, but not forgotten Thank you Leon Abood, for your dedicated service. Thank you Georgia Abood, for sharing your Husband with all of us, for all these years. Thank you Jacqui, for providing a way to thank and Honor Leon in front of those whom he has served with such Honor and Dignity.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I listened to a Miss Jennifer Thomson at our lagoon house on water quality. I did learn one thing new. Southeast Florida has salt water intrusion bad. Now I see why they are so desporate to send all the fresh water south. By the time they start selling fresh water to Miami , The town of Stuart will then have salt water intrusion too. Then there will be no more of this pumping FREE well water. Its a win win situation===big retirement checks for everyone(almost).I have an idea. If you put a colar on everyones neck you can charge them everytime they take a breath of air.—why not people waunt to charge them every time they take a drink of water.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for sharing great, well written and meaningful information Jacqui. As always!

    Leon, thanks for fighting for clean and healthy natural resources. I appreciate the efforts of all RC Team!!!! Warrior on!!!

    Liked by 1 person

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