Tag Archives: and Buying EAA Option Land is Key to Saving the SLR/IRL

“War–” US Sugar and The Everglades Trust, SLR/IRL

 

File photo, WWII bomber. (Public photo.)
File photo, WWII bomber, “flying over fields”. (Public photo.)

I must begin by saying  that my recent blogging has been somewhat “uncomfortable” for me, as I was raised to act like a “lady,” and recently I feel more like a fighter pilot.

Politics sometimes makes “being a lady” a difficult goal, so I do apologize to anyone, such as my mother, who may be offended by my relentless “fighting” blog posts recently regarding the importance of  state purchase of the 46,800 acres of option lands for sale by US Sugar Corporation.

As a warning, mom and others, today’s blog post will be more of the same, as a “type of war” has started.

—-A war of information. A war to influence our governor and legislature….a war over how to use Florida’s Amendment 1 monies….a war to save the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon, Caloosahatchee, Everglades, and drinking water for South Florida, or just to keep the “status-quo…”

In order to explain this, I will share what has happened over the past few days…

Option Lands Map SFWMD River of Grass, Option 1 is 46,800 acres and shown in brown. (SFWMD map, 2010)
Option Lands Map SFWMD River of Grass, Option 1 is 46,800 acres and shown in brown. US Sugar and the state are resisting the purchase of  these lands with Amd. 1 monies…(SFWMD map, 2010.)

On Wednesday, February 18th, Eric Draper, the Executive Director of Florida Audubon, (http://fl.audubon.orgwas quoted in a “Sunshine State News” piece as saying (regarding the flow way south) “—it will never happen, it’s pie in the sky…”

Knowing Mr Draper and knowing that words in news articles often are twisted for effect, I wrote Audubon immediately asking about the situation.  Mr Draper replied with an apologetic email and a letter he had written that day to Governor Scott in support of purchasing the option lands. See below:

Eric Draper, Executive Director of Florida Audubon. (http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/2013-06-26/news/sfl-about-eric-draper-south-florida-100_1_land-conservation-florida-house-florida-legislature)
Eric Draper, Executive Director of Florida Audubon. (http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/2013-06-26/news/sfl-about-eric-draper-south-florida-100_1_land-conservation-florida-house-florida-legislature)

Dear Ed and Jacqui, (Commissioner, Ed Fielding not my husband Ed!) 🙂

In my effort to promote the idea of an EAA reservoir and distinguish that from the hard to explain Plan Six I unwittingly played into a storyline not my own. I found the story confusing and somewhat unrelated to what I was trying to say. Nevertheless, I am sure that folks are disappointed to hear me discount the flow way and that was not my word or intent. As an 30 year advocate for the Everglades and Lake Okeechobee I feel strongly about moving water south. Audubon will continue to work on getting the US Sugar land purchased for the purpose of establishing a CERP reservoir.

I apologize to both of you and to all the supporters of the idea of Plan Six and a flow way.

Eric Draper
Executive Director

Audubon FLORIDA

Email from Eric Draper regarding article and quote. (2-18-15)
Email from Eric Draper regarding article and quote. (2-18-15)

 

Eric Draper, Florida Audubon's,  letter to Governor Scott. (2-18-15)
Eric Draper, Florida Audubon’s, letter to Governor Scott. (2-18-15.)

I believe Mr Draper did not mean for his words as they were reported. Speaking with the media is sometimes tricky business and anyone who speaks to them long enough will feel that he or she has been “misquoted.”  Mr Draper’s  work is one of the main reasons Amendment 1 passed in the first place, and you can see by his letter above to Governor Scott he supports buying the option lands.

OK, one bomb down…Two to go….

So then on Saturday, Feb 21st, I get an email from my Florida League of Cities colleague,  Teresa Heitman,  who is a councilwoman for the City of Naples. She simply forwarded me an email she had received from US Sugar Corporation. You can click on the image below to read it, but basically it says: “Send the Water South?” “Not so fast”…and gives three articles supporting why the option lands should not be purchased,  why the “enviros”are nuts, and  one of the articles quoted is the one quoting  Eric Draper that I mentioned above!

As an aside, and as an elected official myself, I must say that I find it in poor taste that this email was sent from US Sugar Corporation directly to an elected official. Maybe Council- woman Heitman is on a “mailing list” for US Sugar, but this seems doubtful to me.

How many other elected officials were sent this email and why is US Sugar sending it out?

On the other hand, it kind of made me feel good when I saw it–like they were threatened by the grassroots river movement here along the St Lucie  River/Indian River Lagoon and the Everglades in general. Kind of ironic to think that US Sugar would need to influence elected officials with direct emails; seems like they already do that with everything else they do like spending millions of dollars on lobbying politicians…….sending this “tiny” email makes them look kind of desperate….

—obviously we have more influence than we realize….

Hmmm?

Also, the thought of a “David and Goliath” fight  is very appealing to me, as in that story, as we all know, David wins…

US Sugar email 2-21-15.
US Sugar email forwarded to me 2-22-15.
US Sugar Corperation
US Sugar Corporation heading on email.

Below is part of the email from US Sugar, just so you can see it. I also made sure the hyperlinks worked in case you want to read the “email bombs” being sent out.

Buy the land? Send the water south? Not so fast…

Dear Teresa,

In case you missed it, please find below highlights from a few recent articles discussing the constraints, risks and concerns with purchasing the U.S. Sugar land option to create a flow-way to send water south to the Everglades:

You can access the articles in their entirety by clicking on the hyperlinked titles.
1. Officials to enviros: Buying land, moving lake water south has risks

By: Christine Stapleton, Palm Beach Post
February 12, 2015

South Florida Water Management District officials made no commitments to several dozen environmental activists who begged them Thursday to buy land south of Lake Okeechobee for Everglades restoration, and for the first time they laid out the hurdles and risks they face in making such a buy. (http://www.mypalmbeachpost.com/news/news/state-regional-govt-politics/frustrated-enviros-buy-land-to-clean-everglades-be/nj82R/)

2. Speaker Crisafulli: Don’t buy land south of Lake O

By: Christine Stapleton, Palm Beach Post
February 18, 2015

House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island, says he opposes the controversial land deal that would enable the South Florida Water Management District to purchase 46,800 acres of land south of the lake at fair market value. (http://postonpolitics.blog.palmbeachpost.com/2015/02/18/speaker-crisafulli-dont-buy-land-south-of-lake-o/)

3. Eric Draper: Lake Okeechobee to Everglades Flowway ‘Will Never Happen’
By: Nancy Smith, Sunshine State News
February 18, 2015

Sending water south from Lake Okeechobee to meander naturally through the Everglades — the “flowway” endorsed by the Everglades Foundation as the only way — “will never happen, it’s pie in the sky,” admitted one of Florida’s leading voices on environmental policy. (http://www.sunshinestatenews.com/story/environmentalist-lake-okeechobee-everglades-flowway-will-never-happen)

——–From an email from US Sugar Corporation sent out 2-22-15.

 

Two bombs down, one more to go! 

 

OK, so tonight, Sunday, February 22nd, a friend contacted me asking: “Jacqui, did you see the commercial? The “buy the land” commercial!” I said I had not, and read the link he sent.

Commercial for Saving Florida's Waters, purchase the US Sugar option lands. (2-22-15.)
Commercial for Saving Florida’s Waters, purchase the US Sugar option lands. (2-22-15.)

See commercial here: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t8HmRTY2OI0)

Wow. What a commercial! A very big bomb!

The  60-second TV spot starts airing  2-22-15 and  sponsored by the  Everglades Trust (http://www.evergladestrust.org) is running on cable and broadcast stations in Tampa Bay, Orlando, Fort Myers, West Palm Beach and Tallahassee.

The scrip reads: 

“Decades of uncontrolled pollution in the Everglades and Lake Okeechobee is endangering our health, killing our wildlife and threatening our drinking water.

Four years ago, the sugar industry signed a binding written contract to sell us land to clean up their pollution, and for a reservoir to protect our water.

It’s been called the most critical piece of land ever for Everglades restoration. Last November, 75% of Floridians voted YES to Amendment 1, making vital land purchases for the Everglades a part of the Florida Constitution.

Now, it’s up to the Governor to back it and the Legislature to fund it.

Call the Governor, call your legislator, and tell them to buy the land. Build the reservoir. And save Florida’s drinking water. Now, while there’s still time.

Sign the petition here SAVING FLORIDA WATER: (http://savingflwater.com)

Article Tampa Bay Blog: (http://www.tampabay.com/blogs/the-buzz-florida-politics/a-new-tv-campaign-presses-for-purchase-of-us-sugar-land/2218650)

So I think that this is a war of sorts. Between US Sugar and the Everglades Trust. For most readers of my blog interested in saving the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon, our ideology is that of the Everglades Trust….

In closing, when you have some extra time, please write to Governor Scott below, and sign the petition above, asking to support the purchase of option lands. And feel good about the influence you are already having in the war to save the Indian River Lagoon!

Write Governor Scott here: (http://www.flgov.com/contact-governor/)

Colorized version of file photo, bomber WWII. (Public .)
Colorized version of file photo, bomber over farm lands, WWII. (Public .)

 

Dr Van Lent–Why an EAA Reservoir Will Help to Save the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

Slide 1. (Dr Thomas Van Lent, Everglades Foundation, 2015)
Slide 1. Everglades Foundation, 2015.)

Today, I am going to try to simplify and share the idea of an “EAA reservoir.” You probably have been hearing a lot about this, but you may not know how it fits into a an option lands purchase and the “sending more water south” concept that will help save the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon, and the Everglades.

This is not fully understood by me either, so I contacted Dr Thomas Van Lent of the Everglades Foundation; he sent me some information that today will share with you.

For me all of this is part of a “flow way concept,” though some may disagree.

Dr Tom Van Lent, Everglades Foundation. (Photo 2015.)
Dr Tom Van Lent, Everglades Foundation, (EF). (Photo 2015.)

(http://www.evergladesfoundation.org/about/staff/)

First things first.

LAND PURCHASE: In order to do anything that will actually take a significant amount of water off of Lake Okeechobee, so the ACOE doesn’t have to discharge to the SLR/IRL and Caloosahatchee, there needs to be land to “store, clean and convey that water south.”

Because over the past 95 years, the EAA took up all the southerly land to create their Everglades Agricultural Area, 700,000 acres of land south of Lake Okeechobee, we are “forced” to purchase lands in the EAA to move any water south. Thankfully, land is for sale; although US Sugar rather not sell it.  (Long drama….let’s just leave it at that–the land is for sale; I believe the state should buy it with Amendment 1 monies and /or “bond it.”) This Option 1, the brown lands below, runs out in October of 2015.

Option Lands Map SFWMD River of Grass, Option 1 is 46,800 acres and shown in brown. (SFWMD map, 2010)
Option Lands Map SFWMD River of Grass, Option 1 is 46,800 acres and shown in brown. (SFWMD map, 2010)

So after getting the land purchase necessity out-of-the-way, let’s look at Dr Van Lent’s write-up and slides:

Jacqui, I’ve attached a graphic that I hope will help explain.

I think everyone can agree that the best solution to the estuaries’ problems is to send more water south. But the major limitation to doing that today is (1) the water is polluted and would irreparably damage the Everglades and (2) the dams in the Everglades prevent you from getting the water out, so adding more water would drown tree islands and other habitats. So, the bottleneck to flow is actually further south, in the Everglades, and not in the EAA.

The solution is to clean the water and then remove the dams. But if you just pull out the dams so water flows when it’s wet, then the Everglades will dry up and burn when it’s dry. So an essential step to pulling out the dams is to add water supply reservoir so that you can keep the Everglades wet during droughts.

The Central Everglades Plan started to open up the dams in the Everglades, but was limited because it did not build any storage. With storage, you can open up the Everglades even more, sending more water south.—–Dr Van Lent

—-I have to say I don’t know much about the dams in the Everglades, but that’s OK, let’s move on….

 

Slide 1. EF.
Slide 1. (EF, 2015.)

(Refer to above slide.) Discharges to the Everglades are limited because the STA’s (Storm Water Treatment Areas) (1.) are too small and cannot clean enough water. Also, dams in the Everglades (2) limit the flow through the Everglades. This leaves the St Lucie/S IRL and Caloosahatchee (3) as the primary outlets for Lake Okeechobee.

Slide 2. (EF, 2015)
Slide 2. (EF, 2015.)

(Refer to above slide.) The “*Restoration Strategies” expansions to STAs (1) and water quality features in *CEPP (2) expanded the ability to treat Lake water going to the Everglades. Moreover, CEPP and Tamiami Trail (3) bridging opened up the Everglades to take more flow, improving conditions in the national park and Florida Bay. The means that significantly less water could be discharged to the St Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries (4). The EAA Reservoir (5) supplies water during dry periods so the Everglades remains set seven when the dams are removed. That is why a reservoir is critical to sending water south; it allows the dams in the Everglades to be breached.

Thank you Dr Van Lent!

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In case you are wondering, I have added the following below, to explain Dr Van Lent’s slide explanation.

*Restoration Strategies is basically making the STAs larger due to a long going law suit of the federal government against Florida that was finalized in the past few years under Gov, Scott. The lawsuit occurred because of the dirty water from Lake O polluting the Everglades: This IS happening and the state has to pay for it, 880 million.(http://www.sfwmd.gov/portal/page/portal/xrepository/sfwmd_repository_pdf/rs_waterquality_plan_042712_final.pdf)

*CEPP the Central Everglades Planning Project of part of CERP (the Central Everglades Restoration Project.)(http://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Portals/44/docs/FactSheets/CEPP_FS_September2013_508.pdfThis is a project that was “fast tracked,” by the ACOE and SFWMD. Congressman Patrick Murphy helped a lot with this. It was not taken on as part of WRDA the Water Resources Development Act that funds projects so it is still on the burner really and will have to be approved the next time a WRDA bill is passed by the US Congress. So right now it is NOT happening but hopefully will in the future…

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Whew!

In closing, I hope these slides, and the explanation from Dr Van Lent helped you in your journey of understand all this. I believe all these things are part of a greater whole. I am very appreciative to Dr Van Lent for sending the slides. What an honor to correspond with him.

When one looks at such, one certainly realizes we are planning for a far off future…and nothing is guaranteed. This can be discouraging, but don’t let it be!

It is our responsibility to the children of the future.

Please write a short email to the Florida Senate in support of purchasing Option Lands this 2015 Legislative Session: (http://www.flsenate.gov/media/topics/wlc) Thank you!

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Everglades Foundation: (http://www.evergladesfoundation.org)