View as Web Page Send to a Friend

FORCE - FRIENDS OF THE RIVERS COALITION eNEWSLETTER August 2010 PO Box 2627 Stuart, Fl 34995 772-225-6849
August 24, 2010

A downsizing of the state's plan to purchase U.S. Sugar lands for Everglades Restoration to only one-sixth of the original agreement is drawing opposition from the Rivers Coalition Defense Fund and environmental groups on the west coast.
The now-planned buy of two small parcels not connected to Lake Okeechobee will do nothing to solve the massive discharges to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries, according to statements adopted unanimously by the Defense Fund.
The Rivers Coalition is not scheduled to meet this month but will resume on Sept. 30 at Stuart City Hall.
Following are the Defense Fund's statements regarding the new sugar purchase proposal:
The Rivers Coalition is greatly disappointed that the state’s newly reduced plan to purchase two small properties in the Everglades Agricultural Area will not provide a place for a critically needed flowway to relieve destructive discharges to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries.
The new mini-purchase totally fails to follow the governor’s original plan to buy out some 180,000 acres of U.S. Sugar lands to establish a “missing link” that would move water from Lake Okeechobee south into the Everglades.
Instead, the latest downsize would be one-sixth of the beginning plan and would not move forward at all toward connecting the Glades and lake.
The Rivers Coalition calls on the South Florida Water Management District to drop the mini-plan and work at full speed toward a meaningful program to help the estuaries as well as the overall Everglades . A firm timetable for real progress must be set.
An accompanying statement by engineer Kevin Henderson, of the Rivers Coalition, describes government’s “bait-and-switch” failures.
We may now expect to face massive additional degradations as our political system fails once again to consider the public good over private profits for a relative few.
The latest purchase plan does include options for possible additional acquisitions and projected small reductions of phosphorous pollution, but these factors are woefully inadequate.
River advocates maintain that a flowway south from Lake Okeechobee instead of releases east and west is the only practical remedy to stop the estuary destruction as well as provide for restoration of the natural river of grass.
Meanwhile, the Rivers Coalition Defense Fund’s federal lawsuit contesting the “alien” discharges continues with the filing of final briefs before a three-judge panel in Washington . The suit maintains that the discharges constitute a “taking” of riparian rights from property owners.
Rivers Coalition Defense Fund
Leon Abood, Karl Wickstrom, Kevin Henderson, Mark Perry, Ted Guy
Click here for more information.
Statement Re: Downsized Sugar Acquisition Proposal, Rivers Coalition Defense Fund
The history of Everglades restoration is littered with bait-and-switch tactics, most often via proposals with great fanfare and promises of public benefits, but eventually consummated into the dust of sordid backroom deals to benefit private interests. The latest iteration of the US Sugar buyout, however, absolutely takes the cake.
Two years ago, Governor Crist proposed a dramatic $1.7 billion buyout of US Sugar, including 180,000 acres of land, in order to re-establish the historic connection between Lake Okeechobee and Everglades . In one fell swoop, Everglades Restoration changed from a patchwork quilt of do-little projects into a real and exciting opportunity for genuine restoration. Cheers came from around the world.
Restore major wetlands within the EAA, historic flows from Lake O to Everglades , help restore coastal estuaries. Failed ideas such as aquifer storage wells were to be discarded. At last, the environment had a real chance to recover. Sure, the deal was costly, but worth it.
Bad economic times and political opposition from other sugar interests intervened, and last year the purchase was scaled back to 73,000 acres. Everglades, Lake O and Estuary interests still championed the deal. Many workshops and meetings were held on how the land would be incorporated into a storage flowway. There were still options to eventually purchase the rest of the land.
Forward to today. The purchase acreage has been reduced again, now to 26,800 acres. The price per acre stayed the same, but the location of the land has moved to the edges of the EAA. The most likely use for the proposed purchase is to construct more storm water treatment areas to treat dirty EAA drainage, but wait; the public already paid for over $1 billion worth of STA’s to improve private drainage water quality going to the Everglades . When does the EAA step up and clean at least some of its own water?
This new purchase plan is but a fig leaf to cover politicians who promised real restoration and now will not deliver. It’s a huge bonus for US Sugar, which will sell two parcels of land they no longer want, and SFWMD does not need.
Some say the value of the land deal is in acreage to be swapped for other lands. If that were true, the purchase land would be located where the soil is still deep and has value. The purchase land is not necessary for Everglades restoration, or Lake restoration. It has absolutely nothing to do with protecting coastal estuaries.
The truth is we have been baited and switched again. This is a bad deal. Environmental advocacy groups have trouble switching from support to damnation as quickly as private and political interests can change the deal, especially when those interests always have a head start behind closed doors. So it’s not easy to do.
In this case, it’s the only thing to do. Kill this deal and start fresh. And do it quickly.
--Kevin Henderson, Board Member, Rivers Coalition
"Save My River" T-shirts featuring an attractive painting of the St. Lucie River wildlife available for purchase.

Read about the T-shirts here:
Pass This Newsletter on!
Use the buttons at the bottom of the newsletter to pass this on to a friend, to subscribe or unsubscribe.

Thank you for all your support.
Editor: Jessica Briske
Learn how to help, click here.

Rivers Coalition • PO Box 2627 • Stuart • FL • 34995

Subscribe Unsubscribe Preferences Send to a Friend
My Newsletter Builder

Report Spam