Tag Archives: Sierra Club

Deadlines for EAA Reservoir and SB10, SLR/IRL

Aerials of A-1/A-2 region of the EAA, JTL/EL 2017
The following is a handout Mark Perry of Florida Oceanographic passed out yesterday at the Rivers Coalition meeting. It is created by John Ullman of the Florida Sierra Club and gives clear presentation on what is necessary for the EAA Reservoir and SB10’s success. I am reprinting here as a resource and reference. Getting the legislation passed for Senate Bil 10 was just the beginning. As we know, for the reservoir to come to fruition we must be diligent over the coming years.
Notice the July 1st, 2017 deadline for the SFWMD to”request that the US Army Corps jointly develop a post-authorization change report for the Central Everglades Planning Project to revise the A-2 parcel element of the project.”
Relationships with the District continue to be strained; a nice phone call or email to Executive Director Peter Antonacci or board member would prove helpful. We must rebuild relationships for future success. We all do have a common goal, clean water for Florida.

http://my.sfwmd.gov/portal/page/portal/xweb%20about%20us/executive%20management

SIERRA CLUB, FLORIDA’S SB10 Blog-by John Ullman
SB10, Important Deadlines:

By July 1, 2017 SFWMD must request that the US Army Corps jointly develop a post-authorization change report for the Central Everglades Planning Project to revise the A-2 parcel element of the project.

By July 31, 2017, SFWMD must contact the lessors and landowners of 3,200 acres of state-owned land and 500 acres of privately-owned land just west of the A-2 parcel. SFWMD must express interest in acquiring this land through purchase, exchange, or terminating leases.

If the US Army Corps agrees to begin developing the post-authorization report, work on the report must begin by August 1, 2017.

SFWMD must report the status of the post-authorization change report to Fla Legislature by January 9, 2018.

SFWMD and Corps must submit the post-authorization change report to Congress by October 1, 2018.*

The House passed the measure with a 99-19 vote; the Senate passed it 33-0.

The Governor signed SB 10 into law on May 9, 2017

Details of SB 10:

• Accelerates the state’s 20-year goal of storing water south of Lake Okeechobee.

• Requires SFWMD to develop a project plan for an Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) Reservoir that provides at least 240,000 acre-feet (about 78 billion gallons) of water storage by utilizing the A-2 parcel (14,000 acres of state-owned land), land swaps, early termination of leases, and land acquisition.

• Provides for at least two-thirds of the water storage capacity of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) Component G.

• Allows the A-1 parcel to remain a Flow Equalization Basin (FEB) as provided for in the Central Everglades Planning Project (CEPP), or to be utilized for the EAA Reservoir if SFWMD can provide for at least 360,000 acre-feet of water storage.

• Requires SFWMD to include increased canal conveyance improvements, if needed, and features to meet water quality standards in the EAA Reservoir project.

• Provides deadlines for submitting the plan to Congress as a post-authorization change report, which will seek approval of the use of the A-2 parcel in a different manner than was authorized in CEPP.

• If the Corps has not approved the post-authorization change report and submitted it to Congress by October 1, 2018 or the post-authorization change report is not approved by Congress by December 31, 2019, SFWMD must request the Corps to develop a project implementation report for the EAA Reservoir Project located somewhere else.

• Prohibits the use of eminent domain to obtain privately held land.

• Provides for termination of the U.S. Sugar option agreement prior to the October 2020 expiration date if the post-authorization change report receives congressional approval or SFWMD certifies to the Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund, the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House that acquisition of the land necessary for the EAA reservoir project has been completed.

• Authorizes the use of Florida Forever bonds in an amount of up to $800 million for the costs of land acquisition, planning and construction of the EAA reservoir project.

• Appropriates $30 million from the Land Acquisition Trust Fund (LATF) to the Everglades Trust Fund, in the 2017-18 fiscal year, for the purposes of acquiring land or negotiating leases to implement or for planning or construction of the Everglades Agricultural Area reservoir project.

• Appropriates $3 million from the LATF to the Everglades Trust Fund in the 2017-18 fiscal year for the development of the CEPP post-authorization change report.

• Amends the LATF distribution to include $64 million of additional funding for the EAA reservoir project.

• Appropriates $30 million from the General Revenue Trust Fund to the Water Protection and Sustainability Program Trust Fund to provide a loan for implementation of Phase I of the C-51 reservoir project.

• Appropriates $1 million from the LATF to the Everglades Trust Fund in the 2017-18 fiscal year for the purpose of negotiating Phase II of the C-51 reservoir and provides the LATF as a potential funding source for the implementation of Phase II of the C-51 reservoir.

• Creates the water storage facility revolving loan fund and requires the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to adopt rules for its implementation.

• Creates the Everglades Restoration Agricultural Community Employment Training Program within the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) to provide grants to stimulate and support training and employment programs that seek to re-train and employ displaced agricultural workers.

• Requires SFWMD to give preferential hiring treatment to displaced agricultural workers, consistent with their qualifications and abilities, for construction and operation of the EAA reservoir project.

• Terminates the inmate labor work program on state-owned lands in the EAA.

The post-authorization change report must be approved by Congress by December 1, 2019.*

*If these two deadlines are not met (and no extension is granted), then the SFWMD must request that the Corps initiate the planning for the EAA Reservoir project that will result in a new Project Implementation Report (PIR) and may continue to build CEPP components as planned in the 2014 PIR.

Posted by Jon Ullman, May 2017, Sierra Club blog
Sierra Club Florida website:http://www.sierraclub.org/florida

JTL 6-23-17

Reflections on Conservation, Preservation, and Education, St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

Fork of the St Lucie River, 2007.
“Reflection.” North Fork of the St Lucie River, 2007.

My mother tells me that when I was a baby she nursed me in Muir Woods, California. My father was in the United States  Air Force, and the family was living in the area at the time. It was 1964. She has joked, my entire life, that this perhaps is the reason I have always been so adamant about protecting the environment and its creatures.

John Muir was part of America’s early conservation movement. He wrote a collection of stories for “Century Magazine” entitled “Studies in the Sierra.” In 1892 Muir joined the magazine’s editor in creating the Sierra Club, an organization with the mission to protect America’s resources and public parks.

There were others who are also famous in the “conservation movement” of that era such as President Theodore Roosevelt. He is most famous for the establishment of many National Parks; Pelican Island, along the Indian River Lagoon in Sebastian,  established in 1903, was actually our nation’s first “national wildlife refuge.” (http://firstrefuge.org)

President Roosevelt said: “The conservation of natural resources is the fundamental problem. Unless we solve that problem, it will avail us little to solve all others.”

As the conservation movement moved forward it is said to have split into two modes of thought. The first was to conserve resources for the future and for their use by humans and the second was more to preserve nature for wilderness preservation.

In any case, the foundation of America’s “conservation” movement was established during  this period from approximately 1850 thorough 1920. This movement was bubbling up in Florida as well.

In 1900 Louis F. Dommerich and his wife Clara hosted a gathering of neighbors in Maitland, Florida, just north of Orlando. On this fateful night the group decided to align themselves with other chapters the existing Audubon Society forming Florida Audubon.

In 1900, not only was Florida’s bird population being decimated, by the plume trade and the rage for feathers on ladies hats, the southern part of the state, almost entirely wetland,  was being drained for agriculture and development.

Great egret in the IRL. Photo by John Whiticar, 2014.
Great egret in the IRL. Photo by John Whiticar, 2014.

This drainage focused around Lake Okeechobee and the Kissimmee River cutting off waters to the Everglades which for thousands of years had formed one of the world’s most important and productive wet lands for birds, fish and hundreds of other species. We, living along the St Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon, are part of this story.

–You reading this today as people who care about the conservation of our area are the grandchildren of that those 15 people who met in Maitland Florida in 1900…

1850s map of Florida
1850s map of Florida

And for conservationists today, water issues are at the top of this list. Although Florida seems to be full of water, it is not. It is along side with California and other western states in its struggle to conserve and preserve water and its life.

South Florida's southern Everglades, 1950 vs. 2003. (Map courtesy of SFWMD.)
South Florida’s southern Everglades, 1950 vs. 2003. (Map courtesy of SFWMD.)

1.7 billion gallons of water is wasted on average to tide each day through the canals draining Lake Okeechobee and the Kissimmee River. With only 3% of the water on the planet being “fresh” and an exponentially growing population, this is wasteful beyond comprehension.  Right now, just south of Orlando, the Central Florida Water Initiative, a conglomeration of three state water districts, is organizing because this area of the state has maximized its water use. They need more.

This is no knee jerk reaction and wise water use is completely linked to the success or failure of Florida’s future.  Unless we can learn to conserve, preserve and perhaps most important, educate the children of the future there will not be enough clean water for people and for the wildlife that has a right to these resources as well.

River Kidz teaches about water issues in the state of Florida. (Julia Kelly artist, 2013)
River Kidz teaches about water issues in the state of Florida. (Julia Kelly artist, 2013)

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Conservation in Florida, FWC : (http://www.myfwc.com/Conservation/)

Florida Audubon: (http://fl.audubon.org)

River Kidz a division of the Rivers Coalition: (http://riverscoalition.org)

Florida Oceanographic: (http://www.floridaocean.org/p/233/advocacy-environment#.VSfHAKbRwl8) These presentation links refer to the 1.7 billion gallons of wasted water through canals and are excellent resources.

River Kidz’ Feedback–“Clean Water/Amd. 1 Rally,” SLR/IRL

 

Katy Lewey of St Lucie River Kidz leads way at the "Clean Water/Amendment 1 Rally," Tallahassee, Florida 2015. (Photo Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch.)
Katy Lewey and her daughter Hannah of St Lucie River Kidz lead the way at the “Clean Water/Amendment 1 Rally,” Tallahassee, Florida 2015. (Photo Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch.)

River Kidz member, Keile Mader, 10, speaks at the Clean Water/Amendment 1 Rally, Tallahassee, 2-18-15: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WvE3-dJjp0Q)

Naia Mader and Olivia Siegel give feedback on rally experience: (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MG_t_uG9Zko)

 

Question posed to River Kid: “So do you think you’ll become a politician?”

“Ummm..no…but I think I’ll be a better public speaker….:)”

 

This blog post is a follow-up to yesterday’s: “Tallahassee or Bust! River Kidz and the Clean Water Rally, Tallahassee, 2015.”

Yesterday, River Mom, Nic Mader, dropped off Naia, Olivia, Keile and I in front of the state capitol building for the Clean Water/Amendment 1 Rally…The sounds of speakers and music filled the air; the bright colors and black skeletons of Janeen Mason’s Solidarity Fish project  could be seen in the distance….(http://www.solidarityarts.com); various members of the RIVER WARRIORS, and others, came up to say “hello;” it was a cool, bright, sunny day and a sense of history exuded from every giant oak tree draped with spanish moss….

“Girls stop.” I said.

Naia, 14, Olivia, 13,  and Keile, 10 turned around and looked at me inquisitively.

“River Kidz, I want you to look around you for a minute. I want to share something with you that you may not think too much about… “THIS is part of the First Amendment, of the United States of America: “the right of the people to peaceably assemble, and to petition their government”…not all countries of the world allow this. My friend Aletha Jones teaching in China in 1989 when their government brought tanks into Tiananmen Square opening fire. Our country and our form of government, have many failures…but our “right to assemble” is key to what is “good” in our democracy….Participate today and know, you too, are a part of this great history of our country ….”

The girls nodded their heads in partial understanding, used to my occasional rants,  and we walked to the steps of the Florida capitol to be a part of the “Clean Water and Amendment 1 Rally” for the State of Florida’s historic 75% passage of the “Water and Land Conservation Initiative, Amendment 1, 2014.” (http://ballotpedia.org/Florida_Water_and_Land_Conservation_Initiative,_Amendment_1_%282014%29)

The rally was a message to the governor and the legislature to spend those monies as is intended within the language of the bill. For those of us coming from the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon Region, this means spending some of this money to purchase option lands south of Lake Okeechobee to store, clean and convey water south to the Everglades, in time, saving the dying estuaries of St Lucie/IRL and Caloosahatchee rivers.

Springs.
Springs sign-Katy Lewey overseeing the SL and Martin River Kidz.

Before the capitol and on its stairs, were people from all over the state;  we even saw Dr Bob Knight, a legend in the springs movement. Most of Florida’s springs have been equally deviated by poor “water” decisions by state, federal and local governments.

River Kidz speaking before the Senatae committee. Watch here: (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iLFWWEtiwig)
River Kidz speaking before the Senatae committee. Watch here: (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iLFWWEtiwig)

It was a whirlwind of a day. The River Kidz were able speak at the rally; write short speeches, and to present them before Representative Larry Lee, Senator Joe Negron, and then, again, at the Senate Natural Resources Committee. They passed out their new River Kidz Second Edition Workbook, “Marty the Manatee” inspired by Mr Marty Baum, the Treasure Coast Indian Riverkeeper.

It was a good day.

Did we feel “warm and fuzzy feedback” regarding our request for option land purchase in the Everglades Agriculture Area (EAA) south of Lake Okeechobee?

“No.”

Did I hear such things as “Steve Crisafulli, the House Speaker may want  to be the Commissioner of Agriculture, and Adam Putnam does want to be governor.”….”agriculture/sugar does not want to sell the land now”—“and believe you me they are 20 years ahead the rest of you investing millions, if not billions of dollars, on a state and national level—–to influence politicians”…..”but its not all doom and gloom—things are moving”—–“and the subsiding EAA lands”—-“oh yes, and the future of Cuba,” “you never know—- maybe”…..”it’s changing so fast…”the advocacy along the Treasure Coast is noticed and making a difference…”

YES. I did hear such things….

🙂 (I will never reveal my sources but I can tell you I have good ones and spoke to many people…..)

Did we, the River Kidz: did I Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch, and River Mom , Nichole Mader find “this” discouraging?

“Yes, and No.”

Yes, because coming up against any wall is never fun when one is looking to go forward…

Nonetheless, I also know, and have been told, all this pushing IS having effect. I also know it may push the “powers that be” faster into what-ever-it-is that breaks this wall of historical government/agriculture “self-interest,” because water and the flood gates of the people will in time bring it down.

Of that I am certain.

Thank you River Kidz! Thank you all! For securing a better water future!

Maggy Hurchalla...
Maggy Hurchalla…
Mark Perry before the Senate Natural Resources Committee. (JTL)
Mark Perry before the Senate Natural Resources Committee.
Cris Costello, Sierra Club.
Cris Costello, Sierra Club.
Kidz with aide in Senator Simmon's Office, delivering their workbook.
Kidz with aide in Senator Simmon’s Office, delivering their workbook.
Senator Dean's office, chair of the Nat'l Resouces Senate Committee.
Senator Dean’s office, chair of the Nat’l Resources Senate Committee.
Bill McCullum and others in background during Senate meeting.
Former Attorney General, and House of Representatives, Bill McCollum and others in background during Senate meeting.
Senator Negron's office.
Senator Negron’s office.
Representative Lee's office.
Representative Lee’s office.
Senate schedule.
Senate schedule.
Olivia Siegle's speech.
Olivia Siegle’s speech.
Keile Mader's speech.
Keile Mader’s speech.
Naia Mader's speech.
Naia Mader’s speech.
River Kidz before the capitol building.
River Kidz before the capitol building.

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River Kidz is a division of the Rivers Coalition: (http://riverscoalition.org)

River Kidz Martin County: (https://www.facebook.com/pages/River-Kidz/237123116309196)

River Kidz St Lucie County: (https://www.facebook.com/riverkidzslc)

Trying to Understand US Sugar’s Option Lands Available for Purchase, Indian River Lagoon

Option lands 2008, US Sugar.
“River of Grass” US Sugar Land Acquisition map. US Sugar website 2014.

Do you remember the historic Everglades restoration plan entitled the “Reviving the River of Grass?” In all honesty, “I do, but I don’t,” as I was just jumping into the boiling pot of small town politics at this time having run for my Sewall’s Point commission seat in 2008.

From what I recall, this was an amazing time, in that it appeared possible for the state of Florida to purchase lands south and around Lake Okeechobee so that overflow waters  could flow south of the lake and thus not cause such incredible destruction to the St Lucie/Indian River Lagoon  and Caloosahatcee estuaries.

The short version of this deal and how it changed is as follows:

2008:  included 180,000 acres for 1.34 billion; 2009: included 73,000 acres for 536 million with option for remainder;  2010: 26,800 acres was bought for 194 million in cash, with option/s to purchase remaining 153,200 acres.

The clock is still ticking on these option lands and although it is not on the state’s agenda to buy these lands at this time, the recent sector lands’ land use change/s proposal has brought the US Sugar Lands Option and Everglades Restoration back into the limelight.

Even though our governor and state legislature would consider it a headache, now would be a good time for the people to push for the purchase of these lands.

Let’s learn about them and let’s begin by reviewing the history according to the deal’s biggest player, US Sugar Corporation:

According to their website , the US Sugar Corporation recalls 2008-2010 as follows: (http://www.ussugar.com/environment/env_restoration.html)

“2008 through 2010 was a bittersweet time for U.S. Sugar – a company that has been farming in the Lake Okeechobee region for more than four generations. It was during this time period when the Company agreed to sell a considerable amount of its sugar cane and citrus acreage to the South Florida Water Management District for the “River of Grass” restoration project. U.S. Sugar is firm in its belief that the sale was for a good cause and is proud to be part of this historic opportunity to make extraordinary progress in Everglades restoration and restore much of the natural footprint of South Florida.”

History of the Agreement

2008
In June of 2008, an announcement was made that the South Florida Water Management District would purchase 187,000 acres of U.S. Sugar’s land (292 square miles or three times the size of the city of Orlando) located in environmentally strategic areas that would help restoration efforts for Lake Okeechobee, the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie estuaries and the Everglades. Under the terms of the original agreement, sufficient land would also be available for critical water storage and treatment as well as for allowing sustainable farming in the Everglades Agricultural Area and the Everglades to be sustainable.

Over the course of the next two years, modifications were made to the agreement. In May 2009, an amended agreement provided for the initial purchase of close to 73,000 acres for $536 million, with options to purchase the remaining 107,000 acres during the next ten years when economic and financial conditions improve.

2009
In 2009, a proposal for a scaled down acquisition was made due to the global economic crisis. Under the new contract, U.S. Sugar agreed to sell 72,500 acres of the Company’s land for approximately $530 million to the SFWMD. While the SFWMD finalized plans for the land, the Company would continue to farm the 72,500 acres through a 7-year lease that may be extended under certain circumstances. The agreement also provided the SFWMD with an option to acquire the Company’s remaining 107,500 acres for up to ten years.

2010
On August 12, 2010, a second amended agreement was reached for the South Florida Water Management District to buy 26,800 acres of land for $197 million along with the option to acquire 153,200 acres in the future.

In October 2010, the agreement for 26,800 acres was finalized and the following month the Florida Supreme Court struck down a challenge to the land acquisition stating that the purchase of U.S. Sugar lands fulfills a valid and extremely important public purpose in providing land for water storage and treatment to benefit the Everglades ecosystem and the coastal estuaries.

Option lands
Arrows point to lands with a 2 year non-exclusive option of purchase 46,000 acres by October 12, 2015.

The next part gets confusing, and I don’t think I understand it all, but I will try to share what I think I know. This is the part about the Sugar Hill Sector Plan controversy and how it relates to the US Sugar Option and Everglades restoration.

First: So in 2010 the state purchased two huge pieces of land. This purchase, totaling 26,000 acres, is shown  in black in the map above. I believe they are the piece in the upper right east corner and the piece below the lake all the way at the very bottom left.

Second: There was a 10 year option negotiated between US Sugar and the State of Florida to buy the remaining 153,000 acres. This is still out there.

Third: Another element  of this option mentioned above is a “2 year non-exclusive option” to buy 46,000 acres by October 12, 2015. This requires the purchase of 46,000 acres of land and it is shown in the map above; the four arrows point to these lands. One of these arrows is pointing to the lands that are the proposed Sugar Hill Sector Plan Lands in Hendry County; it  is the second arrow from the left.

Confused yet? Don’t feel bad, I always am!

Sector Plan lands, 44,000 acres.
Sector Plan lands, 44,000 acres, located in US Sugar option lands required to by bought by 2015 if purchased for Everglades restoration.

So it is these sector lands that the second arrow on the left side points to that are the proposed Sugar Hill development in Hendry County. These are the lands causing much controversy because they are located inside “option lands.”

Hendry County wants their land use changed for future economic development; for that I cannot blame them, this is the job of every commission. Nonetheless, the issue for the state and for those of us inundated with toxic waters from Lake Okeechobee every few years is that these lands were set aside for the “River of Grass Restoration Project.”

If the land use is changed from agricultural to residential/commercial its price will be much higher and realistically never purchased by the state of Florida for Everglades restoration.

 

Overlap lands
Overlap lands between option lands and Sugar Hill.

To keep going with this, the map above shows that the possible US Sugar land purchase option lands and the Sector Plan lands of Sugar Hill. You can see in the black lined areas that there is an overlap by approximately 13,250 acres. These are the acres that are requesting land use change that are located within the option lands. So if it is only part of the lands, why the problem?

According to Mr Mark Perry of Florida Oceanographic who provided the maps for this blog entry, ”

The issue here is that the subsequent 2-year, non-exclusive option —46,000 acres (by October 12, 2015)  must be bought in total and with changing “land use” on part of the lands, it may pose a problem for the State purchase.”

At this time many conservation groups led by the *Everglades Foundation have sent letters to Governor Scott stating stating:

“We are concerned the proposed land purchase can be jeopardized by a recent 43,000 development plan (The Sugar Hills Sector Plan…) We encourage your administration to revue the impact this Sector Plan may have on the ability of the state to move forward with the land purchase with special attention given to the fiscal impact a land use change could have on the market value of the option lands…”

Only time shall tell if development interests or Everglades restoration wins out. One way to help is to write Governor Scott at the website below. Thank you trying to learn all this and for continuing to fight for the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon.

Governor Scott’s email: (http://www.flgov.com/contact-gov-scott/email-the-governor/)

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*It was pointed out to me that it was the Sierra Club, not the Everglades Foundation that sent a letter inclusive of many environmentalist groups. The Everglades Foundation did send a letter but just from their board. Thank you Chris Maroney.

SFWMD “Reviving the River of Grass:” (http://www.sfwmd.gov/portal/page/portal/pg_grp_sfwmd_koe/pg_sfwmd_koe_riverofgrass)

SFWMD Timeline, Land purchases for River of Grass, US Sugar Lands:
(http://www.sfwmd.gov/portal/page/portal/xrepository/sfwmd_repository_pdf/jtf_rog_acquisition_timeline_2008_2010.pdf)US Sugar, Map, Option Lands:

(http://www.ussugar.com/downloads/rog_land_acquisition_map.pdf

Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch’s blog : SugarHill Sector Plan:(https://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/2014/09/08/sugar-hill-sector-planairglades-airports-location-and-how-it-affects-the-indian-river-lagoon/)

Advertising for Clean Water Along the Indian River Lagoon

An ad running on the west coast of Florida in the area of Lee County, put together with the collaboration of interested parties and local governments, 2014. (Shared by former council lady Marsha Simmons, Bonita Springs.)
An ad running on the west coast of Florida in the area of Lee County, put together with the collaboration of interested parties and local governments, 2014. (Shared by former council lady Marsha Simmons, Bonita Springs.)

Billboards, radio ads, and commercials for clean water. They are already on Florida’s west coast and they may be coming to The Treasure Coast. Lee County and generally the west coast of a Florida have been the leaders in this promotion for educating the public to vote and act out of habit  for “clean water.”

I smiled a few years ago when I saw a Facebook post of a billboard on the west coast of a lady in a bikini standing in a pool of algae water holding it in her hands, the caption read ” Why won’t Florida’s politicians protect our water?”I believe Earth Justice, a law firm for the environment, and the Sierra Club helped fund the ad along with private monies.

Lately local governments themselves are helping create and fund these ads, like the one above for fertilizer. “Don’t Feed the Monster,” teaches the public not  to over fertilize. It was Sanibel and Sarasota on the west coast that started the strong fertilizer ordinances in their cities, somewhere around 2007. It caught on. In 2009 on Florida’s east coast,  the City of Stuart passed the first “state endorsed” fertilizer ordinance and then in 2010 the Town of Sewall’s Point went one step further and passed a “strong fertilizer” ordinance not allowing fertilizing during the rainy season with product containing phosphorus and nitrogen, the nutrients that “feed” algae blooms in our waters. Martin County and others followed and then this strong fertilizer ordinance idea, originally from the west coast, went up the entire treasure coast and beyond. Remarkable!

Will the next move be for Martin, St Lucie and Indian River Counties to have a couple of billboards? Martin County  is promoting the “Be Floridian” program or getting ready to….this fertilizer education program came out of Tampa Bay. Their ad is pink flamingos! At the beginning of every rainy season the city hall puts hundreds if not thousands in front of their building and around the city. These pink flamingos remind the public to “not fertilize during rainy season June-September.” The “Be Floridian” program promotes Florida Friendly yards with less turf grass and less fertilizing. It has been wildly successful and Tampa Bay has recovered 45percent more of their sea grasses than they had after World War II since the programs’ inception which occurred around ten years ago.

These ad programs are working and educating for clean water and putting pressure on politicians and agriculture to get more “on board.”

I think the ads are coming to the St Lucie/Indian River Lagoon Region soon, so if you have any clever ideas please share. But one thing for sure, if I’m involved,  I will not be wearing a bikini! 🙂

Overcoming Our Differences/Fighting as “One” this Sunday for the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

river rally 2014

Great passions surround issues of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon.

Over the past month, I have have been “corrected,” like a middle school child, not only by some friends  but by institutions, for my outspoken comments for or against certain politicians  or programs affiliated with the Indian River Lagoon. This berating came as a shock to me as I have not “been corrected” since I lived in my parents house and was constantly corrected. I was not good at it then, and I am not good at it now.

When I complained about this recently, my husband Ed just looked at me  and laughed saying, “Get used to it, if you want to be involved in politics!”

“I am working for the river, I replied, not politics.”

Ed looked at me like I was  in outer space and again laughed that infectious laugh of his.”

“Sure Jacqui…”

Of course Ed is right. Water is politics. And politics can be even more toxic than our St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon.

This Sunday, August 3, at 10 a.m. , at Phipps Park, (St Lucie Locks and Dam), the River Warriors with the second year leadership of Evan Miller and the help of the Rivers Coalition, the Indian River Keeper,  and the Sierra Club, will hold the “March Against the Lake Okeechobee Discharges.”

There will hopefully be hundreds if not thousands of people there. And even though there will be people of many political affiliations, backgrounds, and beliefs,  when the “powers that be” see the group together in one place our differences fade and WE ARE ONE. It is this oneness, this togetherness that has brought us from obscurity to state and national recognition for the problems of Lake Okeechobee, the St Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon in just one short year. 

I have an old chest in my living room that came over to the United States in the 1700s. Its owners were  French Huguenots who were openly persecuted and killed for their religious beliefs.  When I see that chest, I think of its journey across the great ocean and  it reminds me that people came to our county for many reasons, but the protections of “free speech” and “freedom of assembly,” to many may have been most important.

May we exercise our American Freedoms with dignity on Sunday and with the protections of the First Amendment of our United States Constitution:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

And please remember, in spite of our differences, or what we believe is the best way to support of our rivers,  we are most powerful when WE ARE ONE, and we can still be ONE with our many differences.
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History of the First Amendment:(http://illinoisfirstamendmentcenter.com/history.php)
History of the French Huguenots (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Huguenot)

“Crediting Cris Costello, the Wizard of Clean Water”

The Florida Clean Water Campaign, Tallahassee  2-18-14
The Florida Clean Water Rally and the Clean Water Declaration, Tallahassee, Fl. 
2-18-14

http://org2.salsalabs.com/o/5215/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=16024

People who really change the world are often not seen as much as some others. They orchestrate their goals like the Wizard of Oz, behind  a curtain. So today, I wish to pull the curtain aside and credit Cris Costello of the the Florida West Coast Sierra Club, who is changing our world in the state of Florida in a big way.

I first met Cris in 2009, when the I was trying to usher through a strong fertilizer ordinance for the Town of Sewall’s Point ; it was only my second year as a commissioner, and I needed lots of help. And suddenly she appeared, like “Glenda the Good.”She contacted me, introducing herself, commending me on my efforts and forwarding me helpful information, ammunition, and contacts, to help me achieve me goal. Then she was gone but she came back to congratulate me when the town’s strong fertilizer ordinance passed in 2010, the first on Florida’s east coast!

Through out the years there have been other experiences with her like this, at the Florida League of Cities, at the Sugarland Rally in Clewiston, fighting the Florida Legislature each year as some there try to take away our Home Rule to have strong fertilizer ordinances and other water protections, and most recently the Clean Water Summit (CWS) in Orlando.

Cris helped organize people and press from all over our great state, as people all over our great state have water issues: overdrawn aquifers, algae filled springs, creeks filled with agricultural and residential fertilizer runoff, the dying Everglades, and especially “us,” the St Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon, with our filthy canals and releases from Lake Okeechobee killing “one of the most bio-diverse estuaries in North America.”

I believe Cris saw the amazing citizen river/lagoon protests that occurred in Martin and St Lucie Counties last summer, and brought the movement state wide. The opening comments of the Clean Water Summit of which hundreds attended were: “The Indian River crisis spurred this movement. It is our responsibility to embrace this movement and embodied it now as a state.”

Today Cris and others organized the Tallahassee Clean Water Rally and thousands of citizens are signing the Clean Water Declaration, see link above. Hundreds of people will be descending upon the steps of the state capitol today, to  say to our legislature: “Clean Water IS  business in Florida; it’s our business!”

Kudos to Cris and those who are changing our world fighting for clean water in Florida. Let’s give her and her team a loud round of applause!