We are thankful

America’s Everglades have many things to be thankful for this year. I’d like to share with you the highlights.

We are thankful for those in the trenches. For you, for our partners and for all the advocates – scientists and citizens –

who stay engaged and don’t back down from the fight. We are pushing an enormous boulder uphill and cannot do it without you. 

We are thankful for a Governor and First Lady who have staked their legacy on Everglades restoration. Governor DeSantis said it best at his swearing-in back in January – “We will fight to restore our Everglades and we will never ever quit. We won’t be cowed, and we won’t let the foot draggers stand in our way.” – and he has not let up on the gas pedal since.

We’re thankful for inspired leadership. From the most amazing board of governors ever assembled to lead the South Florida Water Management District to the talented and passionate Secretary of Environmental Protection, Noah Valenstein, we have good people at the helm.

We’re thankful for progress. This year brought the end of one of sugar’s leases. Building filtration marshes and the reservoir in the EAA is now the top priority. We are hopeful for shovels in the ground before year end. The bridging of Tamiami Trail and the removal of the roadbed is in its last phase and for the first time in 100 years, water can flow south under the Trail into the southern part of the system.

We’re thankful for legislative heroes. A growing number of men and women in the Legislature are recognizing the importance and value of Everglades restoration. Leaders like Senators Rob Bradley (R) and Jose Javier Rodriguez (D) and State Reps. Chris Sprowls (R) and Anna Eskamani (D).

We’re grateful we have Congressional leaders. Congressmen Brian Mast and Francis Rooney have worked tirelessly to usher in a new paradigm for the future of Florida’s waterways and Everglades – against all odds.

In the history of Everglades restoration, there has never been a better year. My sincerest hope is that next year’s Thanksgiving note will be even brighter.

Thank you for sticking with us! We at the Trust wish you and yours a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Kimberly Mitchell
Executive Director  


The Elephant in the Everglades

Team Everglades-

Recently, the Miami Herald hosted the 2019 Florida Priorities Summit that focused on issues affecting all Floridians – the economy, education, the environment, health care and transportation. The day-long conference of speakers and panel discussions brought together some of Florida’s top leaders and decision makers. Oh, and Big Sugar.

Moderated by Michael Grunwald, journalist and author of The Swamp, the group convened to discuss the number one issue described by the 50 top thought leaders in the state – our environment – and included Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber, Eric Eikenberg of the Everglades Foundation, and Julie Wraithmell of Audubon Florida.

Joining these environmental leaders was Gaston Cantens of Florida Crystals, representing the Sugar Cane League. Weird, right?! Turns out, the Sugar Cane League was a sponsor of the event.


It was hard to watch at times, as hypocrisy and audacity collided. Gaston carried on about the “great strides the sugar industry has made in technology and pollution control,” and how “clean and sustainable” their operations are as if they aren’t even part of the problem and have no idea what all the fuss is about.

We had to laugh when we heard him say, “You know, we’re not Old MacDonald’s farm anymore.” Well, that’s for sure.  I don’t recall the nursery song containing a line about a subsidy-E-I-E-I-O or a price support-E-I-E-I-O.

Gaston touted their progress on limiting pollution. Did they do that on their own, as good stewards of the land? Not a chance, it was mandated by a federal court and roughly 91% has been paid for by you and me, the taxpayers. To the tune of $4 billion. Four. Billion. Dollars. E-I-E-I-O!

He goes on to claim Florida Crystals and US Sugar have nothing to do with the pollution in Lake Okeechobee or its discharges. Do we laugh, or do we cry?

Next came Gaston’s attempt at sugarsplainin’ water storage NORTH of the lake.

The boys of sugar are physically blocking the flow of water south to the Everglades (yes, Gaston, we see how big you are on the map, all 500,000 acres of you). They force-hold all that water in Lake O in case they need it, requiring it to be dumped to both coasts of Florida when they don’t. 

So, they simply adore the idea of injecting that polluted water into the aquifer north of the lake. Out of sight. Out of mind. E-I-E-I-O.

Florida’s economic and ecological survival relies on lots and lots of clean water and Big Sugar’s political survival relies on getting as much dirty water out of sight and out of mind. Injecting trillions of gallons of agricultural runoff into the aquifer and hoping enough of it will be available when South Florida needs it in the dry season isn’t just a disastrous idea, it’s a strawman distraction.

Hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of ASR wells north of the lake are a Big Sugar Shuffle, shifting filthy water from one place to another, moving us further away from solving the problem, delaying real solutions and forcing the taxpayers to, once again, pay for it.

Since Ol’ MacDonald was a young lad, Florida Crystals and US Sugar have obstructed every attempt to send clean and plentiful freshwater south because that direction – south – hammers home the obvious. Big Sugar’s 800-square miles of publicly subsidized sugarcane geographically starves the Everglades and vital, national estuaries of the freshwater they need to survive.

Big Sugar isn’t part of the problem. They are the problem – the gigantic corporate elephant in the Everglades, drinking it dry.

Try again, Gaston, the water is going the wrong way and the peanut gallery isn’t buying your spin.

For the rest of you, stick with us!

Kimberly Mitchell
Executive Director  

Ol’ Big Sugar, they have a subsidy.

E-I-E-I-O

And with this subsidy, they buy politicians.

E-I-E-I-O

With fake news here. And fake groups there.

Here a lobbyist, there a lobbyist, everywhere another lobbyist.

Ol’ Big Sugar, they have a subsidy.

E-I-E-I-O

* The role of the “subsidy” providers played by the taxpayers.

* The role of “farmer” played by Gaston Cantens of Florida Crystals.


Reform for one of the nation’s most despicable corporate welfare programs is back on the table. Now is a good time for Floridians to get educated on the dark world in which the sugar industry works – especially the Fanjuls of Florida Crystals, who benefit the most from the lion’s share of a $4 billion annual handout.

We will continue to shine a big bright light on the legalized corruption that lives inside BOTH political parties until clean freshwater is moving SOUTH to the Everglades, where it belongs.


“Business and the environment are not at odds. They are totally linked and industry is crazy not to embrace steps to promote a clean environment.

Investments we make now to restore and protect our environment have a huge long-term positive return.” – Bill Yeargin, CEO of Correct Craft Boats headquartered in Orlando

SUN SENTINEL: Understanding ‘The Swamp,’ the environment and business


Calusa Waterkeeper John Cassani: “This airborne stuff is all new ground. People think, ‘Well, if I just don’t get in the water, I’ll be fine,’ but this is a bigger realm now – it’s the air you breathe.”

NEWS PRESS: Algae toxins are airborne and can reach deep into human lungs, FGCU research shows


State Rep. Anna Eskamani is the bomb! Everyone should follow her example and fire off a quick note to the Suwanee River Water Management District telling them to deny Nestles’ permit request.

Here’s their website: http://www.mysuwanneeriver.com/134/Current-Board-Members


Bad for the environment. Worse for humans. Subsidized by the American taxpayer.

“Kina Phillips, 44, a mother of three from South Bay whose husband works for one of the local sugar companies, says it’s time for locals to ‘step up and stop turning a blind eye’ to a powerful industry that is poisoning her community.”

GAINESVILLE.COM: Sugar field burning plagues poor Florida towns with soot


Anyone leery that change has arrived should read this Thanksgiving message from Col. Andrew Kelly. With pressure from Governor Ron DeSantis and persistent and unapologetic work from Congressman Brian Mast, the Army Corps did something they’ve never done before: They bucked the political whims of Big Sugar.

The problems that plague our waterways and are killing the Everglades won’t be solved with the flip of a switch, but this is what progress looks like. For that, all Floridians should be thankful.

NEWS PRESS: Army Corps Col. Andrew Kelly: A successful year for Lake Okeechobee | Opinion


“It’s incumbent on us to make sure the next generation does not have as much of a burden.” –Chauncey Goss, Chairman of SFWMD

“I’m hoping this is a permanently changed mindset where the public really voices how they value the environment and passes that on.” –Dr. Mike Parsons, FGCU

NAPLES NEWS: Southwest Florida mayors, experts meet to discuss water quality issues


“These birds are giving us a signal. What they’re revealing to us is that the problems that we already know are a problem, are not going away. They’re only getting worse.” – Zoologist Ken Meyer, director of the Avian Research and Conservation Institute in Gainesville

WUSF NEWS: Florida’s Red Tide Is Back. One of North America’s Rarest Bird Species Is Among Its Latest Victims


Politicians have allowed Big Sugar to commandeer the water for the Everglades. Meanwhile, politicians are considering allowing this to continue in North Florida. Just NO.

Nope. Nope. Hmmm mmmm. No. No. No. No. Hell No! No.

WFLA: Nestlé’s battle for Florida’s springs heating up as water flow reaches historic lows

Your voice is needed: Army Corps Public Comment Period

Team Everglades-

For decades, Everglades Trust has been on the front lines of Everglades restoration. We’ve worked to keep the focus on making the EAA Reservoir – the Everglades reservoir and treatment project – a reality. This one project has been a linchpin of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan since its inception in 2000, yet 20 years later our government still doesn’t have it built.

Out of 68 projects, this reservoir and treatment component – the Everglades reservoir south of Lake O – was ranked number two. 20 years ago. And as we all know too well, the situation we’re in now is far more dire than it was 20 years ago. 

After agreeing to it in 2000, the sugar cartel has fought it at every turn, dragging out the process to their benefit while the Everglades and Florida Bay deteriorate more each year from a lack of freshwater and both coasts of Florida are tortured by toxic, polluted water discharges. 


 

After decades of this tug of war, Florida now has the dedicated funding and the federal government has authorized the EAA Reservoir. But before work can begin, the Army Corps needs to issue a permit. Before the Army Corps can issue a permit, federal law requires an Environmental Impact Statement or, EIS. This step has been completed and the Army Corps announced they are now accepting public comment on the Final EIS (available here) for the EAA Southern Reservoir and Stormwater Treatment Area.

Comments will be accepted in writing until Monday, February 24th. This is an important time to make your voice heard, demanding this project move forward with all due haste. Take five minutes out of your day to be on the record along with us!

Please send comments by email to EAAReservoir@usace.army.mil or by mail to this address:

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District
ATTN: Andrew LoSchiavo
701 San Marco Boulevard
Jacksonville, Florida 32207-8175

You can read the documents here.

This vital reservoir and treatment project south of the lake will allow us to store and treat water from Lake Okeechobee before sending it south to the starving Everglades and Florida Bay, and greatly reducing any need for polluted discharges to the coasts. Every single unbiased and independent biologist, hydrologist and wetlands expert, including the National Academy of Sciences, agrees. 

In 2017, with the might of Senate President Joe Negron, we got the plan and funding to move forward from the state. But Everglades restoration is a 50-50 partnership – we need the federal government, too.

So, we fought like the dickens to get the federal authorization for the EAA Reservoir included in the Water Resources and Development Act of 2018. This was a big win and a huge step forward to sending water south. But no project moves forward without funding, so we battled just as hard for the federal funding needed for the project. For the first time ever, we’ve got the funding we need and federal authorization of the project.

It is critical that Floridians speak up and stay engaged as this project moves forward.  It is and always has been the power of the public that truly moves the needle on Everglades restoration. As always, it will take a continuously engaged public to stay the course to save and protect America’s Everglades. 

Alice Walker, Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist and poet, put it best when she said: “The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.” We could not agree more.

Please continue to stick with us!

Kimberly Mitchell
Executive Director  

With an utter lack of integrity, purporting to care about fixing the mess they got us into, declaring their undying commitment to the Everglades and Florida’s waterways, this Legislature is merely rearranging the chairs on the deck of the Titanic. We call it Fake Hustle. The polluters say JUMP and the Legislature says HOW HIGH?!

News Press: Opinion – Florida Legislature needs bold action on water quality

“Until very recently, if the history of Everglades restoration had been a dance, it would have been an easy one: ‘one step forward, one step back.’ Enough dancing. It’s time for a parade – all of us marching forward, with no stops.” –Eric Eikenberg, Everglades Foundation

Sun Sentinel: Voters should keep pressure on state, federal lawmakers to fund Everglades restoration | Opinion

Given the Fanjul’s outsized influence over the government in the DR, the victims are trying desperately to have the case heard in the US. It is an American company, after all, and serves as an offshore proxy that has led to the destructive sugar subsidy program in the US. It’s grotesque on many levels.

Palm Beach Post: Firm owned by Palm Beach County sugar barons accused of violent evictions in the Dominican Republic

One of the best decisions Governor DeSantis has made since taking office was to appoint Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch to the SFWMD governing board. Former Mayor of Sewell’s Point in Martin County and a generational expert on the St. Lucie River and Indian River lagoon, Jacqui is practical, proud and determined to save this northern Everglades estuary.

Jacqui Thurlow Lippisch: 2020 Aerial Update! St Lucie River to Kissimmee!

URGENT: Tell your Legislator to Vote NO on Anti-Voter Initiative Bills!

Our rights to participate in direct democracy are sacred to our republic and not negotiable. Elected officials should be working to make it easier to access democracy and government at all levels, not harder.

URGENT: Tell your Legislator to Vote NO on Anti-Voter Initiative Bills!

“Everglades National Park is the third largest national park in the lower 48 states, but it can be explored in a day by booking a tram tour, eating Native American food and taking an airboat ride.” A World Heritage Site, International Biosphere Reserve and Wetland of International Importance, the Everglades are yours to experience and protect.

Naples News: Take a visual tour of the Everglades

Two men. Two women. Two political parties.

Team Everglades-

In our 30-year battle to save and protect America’s Everglades, we have lacked true bipartisan leadership inside the state of Florida and within the halls of the United States Congress at the same time. In this Everglades Review, we share with you one of the finest Congressional hearings we have witnessed and why we believe the times are changing.

These video clips of the meeting illustrate exactly what we have been up against: how the sugar cartel and hundreds of their high paid lobbyists and consultants have worked to stop Everglades restoration. But THIS time, you will also hear the right questions being asked, witness effective bipartisanship at work and meet the political heroes making it happen.


In Washington, D.C., the Everglades have two remarkable superstars standing up to the status quo designed decades ago by and for the sugar industry – U.S. Representative Brian Mast (R-FL) representing the top of the broken water management system and U.S. Representative Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D-FL) representing the southern end of the broken system.

Inside the state, Governor Ron DeSantis (R) continues to force the change necessary to get clean freshwater flowing south from Lake Okeechobee. He has not quit, nor has he backed down from his promise to us and all 21 million Floridians.

On the southern end of the system, we have a powerful ally: Miami-Dade County Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava (D) is now running for Mayor of Miami-Dade. We have enthusiastically endorsed her candidacy, counting on her to win this race and then work with us to ensure more freshwater be sent south when and where it is needed.

Two elected officials using all their muscle to push clean freshwater south of Lake O. Two elected officials vigorously pulling, demanding that water reach them.

Two men. Two women. Two political parties.

At long last, Florida has legitimate champions challenging the status quo, standing up to the sugar industry – and by their actions declaring a new day for the Everglades and four nationally-important coastal estuaries. We pull together, not apart.

None of this is easy, but we are bullish about the road ahead.

Stick with us!

Kimberly Mitchell
Executive Director  


As a result of sugar’s lobbyists removing all the agreed-upon amendments that would give the Everglades, both coasts of Florida and our drinking water supply greater protections during this year’s Water Resources and Development Act vote, Congressman Brian Mast asked for a special meeting of this powerful committee.

Chaired by U.S. Representative Grace Napolitano (D-CA), the House Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment met in person and virtually on September 24, taking expert testimony on the current state of affairs for the Everglades from some of Florida’s most knowledgeable – Secretary of Environmental Protection Noah Valenstein, Chairman of the South Florida Water Management Chauncey Goss, Vice President of the Everglades Foundation Shannon Estenoz, Keys fishing guide and boat captain Elizabeth Jolin, and Florida Farm Bureau and sugar rep, Gary Ritter.

*Special note: Gary Ritter of the Florida Farm Bureau is a very nice man. He continues to do the bidding of the sugar industry, but he remains a gentleman. He just happens to be dead wrong.

Brian Mast goes to Washington, and US Sugar and Florida Crystals do not like it one bit. This clip gives you the framework of the hearing. After months of bipartisan work to bring urgent relief to the Everglades and both coasts of Florida, sugar lobbyists swooped in at the 11th hour and stripped critical provisions out of WRDA 2020. Congressman Brian Mast explains it all – and hits it out of the park.

Watch: Congressman Brian Mast takes on Big Sugar

Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell asks the experts testifying: “Is the status quo acceptable?”

Florida Keys fishing guide, Elizabeth Jolin: “NO”

Everglades Foundation COO, Shannon Estenoz: “NO”

SFWMD board chair, Chauncey Goss: “NO”

Secretary of DEP, Noah Valenstein: “NO”

Farm Bureau and sugar rep, Gary Ritter: “YEP”

Watch: Is the status quo acceptable?

In this clip, watch the experts dispel the myth that the sugar industry has a “right” to all the water in Lake Okeechobee. In Florida, no entity has a right to water – it is a sovereign resource for all to share, including our waterways and Everglades. It is granted through the permitting process. And for decades, sugar has been given carte blanche to hoard as much as they want, then have it dumped on both coasts when they don’t. This gift of the public’s resource to Big Sugar, the agencies’ refusal to initiate the “No Harm Standard,” is why we’re in the mess we are today.
 

Watch Congressman Mast try to have the conversation with the sugar industry’s representative. Though the industry claims to “need” all this water, they don’t. In fact, we can find only one year since records have been kept that sugar suffered a loss due to drought: 1982. But every year, the Everglades suffer. Just this past March, the hottest and driest on record, sugar pulled 40 billion gallons of water out of Lake O to irrigate their crop, while Everglades National Park received only 100,000 gallons.

Watch: How much is too much?

The US Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers have ruled that cyanobacteria levels on freshwater bodies are too toxic for humans to touch if they exceed 8 ppb (parts per billion). In this clip, you will hear Florida’s Secretary of Environmental Protection discuss the findings earlier this summer where those toxins were at 800 ppb. Keep in mind, the sugar industry stripped protections for the coasts from this year’s Water Bill (WRDA 2020).

Watch: Toxic consequences

In this clip, Congresswoman Mucarsel-Powell asks the experts what can be done to mitigate the brutal, but preventable, damage being done to the ecosystem – the drinking water supply for all of South Florida, the Everglades and four coastal estuaries – until these critical projects we fight for, especially the EAA reservoir, are up and running.

Watch: Operational flexibility is crucial now

For those who are interested in watching the 90-minute hearing in its entirety, here is the link.

A Flurry of Fake

Team Everglades-

For decades, scientists, water managers and politicians of both political parties have known about the Everglades water woes: an oversupply in the wet season that gives rise to toxic blue-green algae and forces unnatural discharges to both coasts of Florida, followed by severe shortages in the dry season that cause deadly droughts and jeopardize the drinking water supply for 9 million Floridians.

It is that southward flow of freshwater through the Everglades that feeds and refreshes the Biscayne Aquifer, the underground water storage for everyone in South Florida and tens of millions of visitors each year. It is that flow of freshwater the Everglades need to survive.

For 30+ years, we have worked hard to get the most critical projects moving forward. And for 30+ years, the sugar industry has delayed progress, using politicians and bureaucrats at both the state and federal levels to manipulate and slow down the inevitable.

Two federally-subsidized sugar corporations – US Sugar and Florida Crystals – fund an entire cottage industry that makes a fortune keeping things broken. They spend tens of millions of dollars each year protecting the death grip they hold over the public’s water. They dole it out as political contributions to politicians and lavish monthly retainers on hundreds of lobbyists and consultants.

They also invest heavily in campaigns of misinformation. Astroturf agents, like South Florida Water Coalition and One Florida Foundation, sprout up. Online “news” outfits flood social media and legislators’ inboxes, like Sunshine State News and The Capitolist. Pay-to-play manipulators are rewarded handsomely to write “articles” or “reports” so the industry, and all their enablers, can circulate them as if they are legitimate.

It’s easy for them to peel off millions, as the federal sugar program hands them hundreds of millions of dollars – yes, you read that right, hundreds of millions of TAXPAYER and CONSUMERS’ dollars, each year. So, what’s $25 million a year among friends?

Meanwhile, one of our planet’s most remarkable and important asset is dying a slow, painful death.

Solving these problems for today and future generations requires serious solutions, not the rants of gadflies from contrived organizations speaking for the self-interests of two– Florida Crystals and US Sugar.

As quickly as they can dish it out, we are here to shine a bright light on it and call it out for what it is – rubbish. Funny thing about science, facts, and the Everglades Trust – we’re stubborn things and we aren’t going anywhere.

Stick with us!

Kimberly Mitchell
Executive Director

The Big Sugar Rope-a-Dope

Team Everglades-

When it comes to Everglades Restoration, we know the details can be complicated, and made even more so by misinformation pushed out by the Boys of Sugar and their team of pay-to-play and phony online “news outlets,” complicit or ignorant politicians, consultants and lobbyists across the state of Florida. 

But at its core, restoration is simple. Return to what Mother Nature gave us to the best of our ability: a natural flow from the Kissimmee River into Lake Okeechobee, that continues south to the Everglades. We all know that the answer to saving our Everglades is to send clean water south.

So why are we hearing new arguments to “slow the flow” into Lake O, or to install expensive water storage north of the lake in the form of Aquifer Storage & Recovery (ASR) wells? You guessed it – Big Sugar is at it again, pushing a $2 billion project for water supply north of Lake Okeechobee, where they are now growing sugarcane. Yep, more free water for sugar barons, sticking the taxpayers with the bill under the guise of mitigating Lake O discharges. 

And right now, they have a Florida Senate all too happy to oblige them.

ASR wells are used all over the world, including Florida. But they function as water storage and recovery under normal conditions. There are none, zero, anywhere in the world, being used for flood control. Here’s why: ASR wells can absorb roughly seven cubic feet of water per second (7 cfs). They are proposing eighty wells. Doing the math, that’s a combined 560 cfs operating at maximum capacity. Currently, polluted water is being unnaturally discharged out of Lake Okeechobee to both coasts of Florida at a rate of 6,000-10,000 cfs. Math matters. 

Here comes the rope-a-dope.

Meanwhile, on the east coast, sugar’s band of merry shills are pushing to keep Lake O’s water levels held higher, AGAIN starving the Everglades of the freshwater it desperately needs AND keeping both coasts at high risk of more toxic discharges. In a nutshell, we’re dealing with Republican operatives on the west coast pushing Big Sugar’s agenda and Democratic operatives on the east coast doing the same. 

Now, look at these two efforts in tandem – keeping the lake levels artificially high while storing more irrigation water to the north of the lake. I think you will come to the same conclusion every independent expert and thinker has: rearranging the chairs on the deck of the Titanic, spending billions of taxpayer dollars to do it, will bring absolutely no relief to the Everglades or the coasts. No new water flowing south. No break in the discharges.

Climate change is only exacerbating the crisis we are facing.

This past March and April were the hottest and driest on record. The sugar giants pulled 70 BILLION GALLONS from Lake O, but Everglades National Park received 0.3% of that amount.

Put another way, for every gallon of water the sugar industry got, Everglades National Park, a World Heritage Site, received a tablespoon. A national park was on fire and Broward County was put on rations from pulling water from the Everglades, but by God, that sugarcane got irrigated.

Slowing or altering the natural flow of water got us into the mess we’re in. Advocating for anything like it again to solve the broken system is, by definition, insanity.

Will you stand up and fight this with us? We cannot do it without a lot of fed up and loud Floridians.

Stick with us!

Kimberly Mitchell
Executive Director  

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

Aerial images of polluted Lake Okeechobee discharges infiltrating the Gulf of Mexico near Sanibel Island. Not natural, not necessary. Restore the flow of water south to be stored, cleaned, and sent to the Everglades where it’s desperately needed!

Wink News: Dramatic images show Lake Okeechobee releases meeting Gulf near Sanibel

For the fourth time in five years, our coastal estuaries are receiving harmful releases of Lake O water. The long-term solution is to build infrastructure to flow the water south. In the short-term, we can prevent discharges through operational flexibility by the Army Corps. Infrastructure is expensive. Flexibility is free. South Florida needs both.

News Press: Let’s manage Lake Okeechobee in a smarter, fairer way 

Everglades restoration will halt these polluted discharges to both coasts of Florida, getting that water sent south past Big Sugar, through treatment marshes and down to Florida Bay. Impeding our progress every step of the way are U.S. Sugar and Florida Crystals. Don’t like your water quality? Now you know who to blame.

NBC-2: Dark water surrounds Sanibel Causeway after Lake Okeechobee water releases

Senate President Wilton Simpson calls the EAA Reservoir “a flaw in our thinking” while pushing for storage north of the lake. We need our politicians to react with the facts, instead of buying into sugar’s fiction.

SE Ag Net: Insurance, Water Issues on the Table for Legislative Session

Clean water is a basic human need. The same is true for our waterways. On election day, nine out of 10 voters in Orange County agreed. The Florida Legislature is sure to find a way to block the measure, but the cat’s out of the bag. The people are speaking up throughout the state, demanding an end to a status quo that is breaking our backs and our hearts.

For almost every single Everglades ecosystem win, it has been a good Federal Judge who ensured it – not bumbling / corrupt politicians or inept / complicit bureaucrats.

News Press: Federal judge rules Corps must change its ways when discharging Lake O water to Caloosahatchee, St. Lucie

The Everglades. Bristol Bay. Two national treasures thousands of miles apart with one thing in common: the possibility of losing them. We urge you to watch this film and get involved. These wild places are worth fighting for.

Public Sees Through Sugar-Coated Tweets

Team Everglades-

If there is a silver lining to 2020 for the Everglades and the Everglades Trust – some humor and hope – it is the public’s reaction to Florida’s sugar industry.

Today, millions of Floridians are armed with science and facts on what, who and why America’s Everglades and three nationally-important coastal estuaries are being destroyed.

More importantly, they know how to solve these problems and understand what is at stake if we do not. This is a far cry from where we started.

One of the Trust’s favorite ways to gauge the public’s sentiment is to read the comments on social media posts sponsored by Florida Crystals and US Sugar. When the public’s ire gets hot, these corporations start pumping out their public relations “we’re just farmers” malarky.

 

When you can’t take the heat, you get out of the kitchen. Unless you’re Big Sugar – then you hire actors and Madison Avenue copywriters and jump into the kitchen. 

Beaming into millions of homes in South Florida come nonstop ads of young children gathered round their mothers, excited to bake and eat holiday cookies and pies.

Clearly, they are not using the airwaves to sell sugar – they have that locked up through the federal sugar subsidy program. No, these work to dull the senses of Floridians so maybe, just maybe, they will forget all that nasty business about toxic algae, red tide, dead animals and sea life, droughts, fires, water restrictions and frightening science reports. 

The kicker is that not much is required of the sugar barons for us to address and solve these growing problems and dire circumstances.

Honest to goodness FACT!

For the past 80+ days, both coasts of Florida have been pounded with polluted water from the lake. The rains have come, the lake is full. The water cannot flow south – it is filled with sugar’s runoff. So, the discharges and carnage begins, as it has for the fourth time in five years.

Everglades restoration will halt polluted discharges to both coasts of Florida, getting that water sent south past the monolithic sugarcane crop that spans 800-square miles south of Lake Okeechobee, through treatment marshes and down to Florida Bay. 

But with each passing year of toxic discharges and each round of battles for water that belongs to South Florida, comes an increasingly engaged and angry electorate. We love them – each and every one of them.

So, for the 2020 holiday season, these are the millions of people for whom we are grateful. Together, we keep moving the ball down the field, against all odds, and only because of the public.

As always, we ask you to stick with us! 

Kimberly Mitchell
Executive Director  

P.S. If you want to leave your own comment for Florida Crystals, or if you just need a good chuckle, we recommend you head over to this tweet and read the comments in their entirety. It’s been a while since we laughed so hard…

*Update: Florida Crystals has since deleted their tweet.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

We called and you answered. Over 500 emails were sent by YOU to the Army Corps of Engineers, urging them to make the new LOSOM rules fair for all water users in Florida. Thank you for standing up against Lake O discharges and making your voice heard. 

Missed the campaign? It’s not too late! Send your feedback to the Army Corps HERE.

For the fourth time in five years, our coastal estuaries are receiving harmful releases of Lake O water. 80 straight days and counting. Images of polluted discharges infiltrating San Carlos Bay near the mouth of the Caloosahatchee. Not natural, not necessary. Restore the flow of water south to be stored, cleaned, and sent to the Everglades where it is needed!

Fort Myers News Press: Relief for the hurting Caloosahatchee in sight, Army Corps to cut Lake O flows

Must Watch. Captain Chris Wittman gives the most current and accurate update on the punishing Lake O discharges to both coasts. US Sugar and Florida Crystals should be ashamed and publicly shamed for causing this.

Watch FB Live: Captains for Clean Water give an update on Lake O discharges

What happens when Orvis, the Everglades Foundation and Captains for Clean Water discuss Everglades restoration? Tune in and find out!

Watch FB Live: Orvis, Captains for Clean Water and the Everglades Foundation panel discussion

Keep your eyes on this one, folks. This is US Sugar getting the taxpayers to pay for their water supply (they are growing sugarcane north of Lake O today) under the guise of stopping the toxic and polluted discharges to both coasts of Florida. Won’t make a dent in the discharges or getting clean water to the Everglades, but some politicians will be making their donors happy.

Florida Phoenix: Fishy business with FL Legislature’s push for wells north of Lake O

Water is the most important resource in Florida. It literally forms the backbone of its ecology and economy. Come along as we follow the path water takes down the state, sustaining the Florida Everglades, and the people and critters who call South Florida home.

Watch: America’s Everglades – Follow the Water

For the Everglades, Not a Bad Year After All

Team Everglades-

2020 is ending on a high note, and no one and nothing is more excited about this fact than the Everglades and three nationally-vital coastal estuaries, including the headwaters of the Florida Keys.

We have a Governor, Ron DeSantis, who has not wavered in his commitment to push back against the status quo and get our most important Everglades restoration project – the EAA Reservoir and Treatment Project – moving. This is by far the most important project for Everglades restoration. We’ve waited more than 20 years for this day. Despite all the hurdles the sugar industry and their lobbyists have thrown their way, the Governor and the Governing Board and staff of the South Florida Water Management District have ushered in the project in record time. Permits have been issued and work has begun!

We have a Congressman, Brian Mast, who has been an Everglades warrior in Washington, D.C., like few before him. Congressman Mast joins a small, but amazing group of men and women who have shown courage in the face of unbelievable adversity to bring Everglades restoration to the point we are at today. He knows who and what is killing the Everglades and is not shy about calling them by name – the sugar industry.

On the southern end of the system, we have a brand-new leader in Miami-Dade County. The Mayor of the County, Daniella Levine Cava, was just sworn into office. Unafraid of challenging the status quo and the naysayers (paid to be naysayers!), this remarkable leader loves the Everglades and stands with us in her commitment to pull that necessary clean freshwater south.

Quite the trio, I’d say. Different political parties in different parts of the state. But just saying it reinforces what we already knew – this epic battle to save one of the most important ecosystems on the planet, the Everglades, is not a partisan issue. It is something everyone can and should rally around. 

There are others, of course. Some in high places. Their tests are coming, as the growing threat to sugar’s political power is threatened and their ability to navigate choppy water will not be easy. Sugar will continue to fight it, but we believe we have soldiers today looking out for the State’s best interests.

So, you best believe I am optimistic about the future of America’s Everglades. But none of this, none of it, would be possible without the support of hundreds of thousands of Floridians – and many from around the nation – who have had enough and are letting their politicians know it.

On behalf of the Board and staff at the Everglades Trust, I wish you a very Merry Christmas and happy holidays. And as we say goodbye to 2020, I ask you to stick with us!

Kimberly Mitchell
Executive Director  

Working alongside the Everglades community and leading that effort in D.C. was Congressman Mast and former Congresswoman Debbie Mucarsel-Powell. These two are members of the powerful Transportation and Infrastructure Committee that ensured the following made their way into the Water Resources Development Act of 2020, also known as WRDA 2020. They include:

  • Securing record funding for Everglades restoration
  • Accelerating construction of the EAA Southern Storage Reservoir
  • Reducing discharges from Lake Okeechobee
  • Combating harmful algal blooms
  • Preventing the sugar industry from manipulating Florida’s waterways

The Everglades Trust cannot explain these successes better than Congressman Brian Mast’s office does with the news release he sent out yesterday. Click this link to read it in its entirety.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

It’s that time of year again… Time for nonstop U.S. Sugar holiday ads beaming into millions of homes in South Florida, painting a rosy picture of grandmothers baking sugar cookies with their sweet little grandchildren. They are meant to dull the senses so maybe, just maybe, we will forget all that nasty business about toxic algae, red tide, dead animals and sea life, droughts, fires, water restrictions and frightening science reports.
 
We’ve created our own version, a parody if you will, to ensure Floridians do not forget. Enjoy.
 

We all know that the EAA Reservoir is the most critical Everglades Restoration project. Despite this, leadership in the Florida Senate is suggesting the EAA Reservoir be defunded in favor of a project north of the lake – ASR wells – which will serve as water supply for sugar and developers north of Lake O.

Contact your State Senator today to voice your opinion. We make it easy here:

Call To Action: Email Your State Senator

“Wilton Simpson, a Republican egg farmer from Trilby, called the $1.6 billion Everglades Agricultural Area reservoir a ‘mistake’ while speaking at the Florida Chamber of Commerce’s Summit. Simpson advocated instead for more water storage north of the lake, echoing similar sentiments the Chamber and U.S. Sugar Corp. have voiced for years.”

TC PALM: Senate President: State should stop building EAA Reservoir to curb Lake O discharges

The Florida Senate is suggesting “a bad idea at a bad time” to appease the sugar industry. Halting progress will bring the Everglades and both coasts of Florida to their knees. Providing water supply for Big Sugar north of the lake adds insult to injury.

The Everglades Foundation presented the annual John Marshall Everglades Symposium virtually this year, commemorating the 20th anniversary of the authorization of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP).

If you weren’t able to join us, we highly recommend you tune in to these five panel discussions.

Listen: John Marshall Everglades Symposium – 20 Years of CERP

Clean Water Around the Corner

Team Everglades-

We have momentum in addressing the heart of Everglades restoration – moving clean freshwater south from Lake O and south of Tamiami Trail – but we cannot rest on our laurels. The pressures from outside forces don’t take days off, so neither do we.

In this Everglades Review, you will read a fairly accurate update on Everglades restoration from Florida Trend Magazine. You will get the opportunity to weigh in on a once-in-a-decade operating guide for water in Lake Okeechobee with the Army Corps of Engineers, and you’ll get a peek at what some of our partners in this restoration effort are up to. 

The fight to save and protect the Everglades, three vital coastal estuaries, and the drinking water supply for 8 million Floridians will never be easy. The desire to make money off the backs of our natural systems is as old as time. Compounding that is today’s political climate and lax campaign finance laws, which allow greater access for special interests to have their way. 

The antidote to Big Money? An informed and loud citizenry.

 

The breadth of knowledge that today’s Floridian has about these ecosystems exceeds anything we’ve seen before. We do need more citizens speaking up and we need to move faster.

With your voice advocating and demanding it, we are optimistic your children and their grandchildren will be able to appreciate these wild places and recognize what it means to be a Floridian.

Stick with us!

Kimberly Mitchell
Executive Director 

UPCOMING EVENTS

Wednesday, Feb 24: Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation, in partnership with the Everglades Foundation, will be hosting a virtual panel discussion, focused on the importance of the EAA Reservoir as a keystone project of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Project. 

Panelists include: Dr. Steve Davis, Ph.D., Senior Ecologist, Everglades Foundation, Capt. Daniel Andrews, Co-Founder & Executive Director, Captains For Clean Water, Marisa Carrozzo, Everglades and Water Policy Manager, Conservancy of Southwest Florida and James Evans, Environmental Policy Director, SCCF.

RSVP: Everglades Update: Benefits of the EAA Reservoir

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is writing the new Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual (LOSOM), and we have a rare opportunity to make our voices heard. Water levels in Lake Okeechobee are currently managed under a flawed system that favors two sugar baron families over the drinking water supply for 9 million Floridians, our waterways and America’s Everglades, forcing polluted lake discharges to both coasts every year.

Email the Army Corps to demand that ALL water users in Florida be considered – by sending the water south to the Everglades instead of discharging it into our oceans. 

Call To Action: Email the Army Corps Here

Miami Commissioner Ken Russell met with Lee County officials on the Caloosahatchee River last week to discuss state-wide water issues and opportunities for cross-county collaboration. “We could be working together to advocate for that Lake O water to head south instead of out to the west to the Caloosahatchee and east to the St. Lucie,” he said. “So the goal is to build relationships and help however we can.”

News-Press: Miami on the Caloosahatchee: Officials meet on river to spark cross-state collaboration

Would a little less rainfall each year or warmer temperatures impact South Florida and the Everglades? Should we be concerned? These are important questions that scientists are trying to address for many areas across the globe.

The Everglades Foundation: The Everglades and Climate Change

Join the Captains for Clean Water as they discuss progress on Everglades restoration with South Florida Water Management District Governing Board Member, Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch.

Watch: Everglades Restoration with Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch and Captains for Clean Water

When NASA weighs in on Big Sugar’s harmful and archaic practices, you know change can’t be too far behind. The damage done to human health and the environment so the sugar cartel can cheaply harvest 800-square miles of sugarcane each and every year is profound and completely avoidable.

Earth Observatory: Smoking Sugar Fields in South Florida

Though U.S. Sugar and Florida Crystals, along with their teams of lobbyists and lawyers, impede progress at every turn, Governor DeSantis and the Governing Board of the SFWMD remain undeterred. This is a very good day for the Everglades and three nationally-important coastal estuaries.

The Palm Beach Post: It’s official: $175.8 million deal approved to finish treatment area south of Lake O

We finally have momentum in addressing the heart of Everglades restoration – moving clean freshwater south. We’ve been close before only to see the boys of sugar march us backwards. Floridians cannot allow that to happen again. Onward!

Florida Trend: Restoring the Florida Everglades: Where things stand

The State of Our Water

Team Everglades-

Polluted discharges from Lake Okeechobee to the Caloosahatchee River continue. Devastating discharges to the St. Lucie River have resumed. Nestle is exhausting our natural springs in North Florida, while US Sugar and Florida Crystals are draining the Everglades of its life source.

Water is not only the public’s asset and greatest resource, but also our heritage. Today, in too many parts of our state, our water and waterways are in a world of hurt.

But on the horizon, there is hope. Keeping his promise to all Floridians, Governor Ron DeSantis is bringing online the most critical components for true Everglades restoration, at record funding levels for the state. With Everglades restoration finally recognized as a vital player in mitigating the effects of climate change, and with the nearly unanimous support of Florida’s congressional delegation, our chances at record-level funding from Congress and President Biden are bright.

For now? Catch up on what you missed this week in the Everglades. And stay tuned!

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

“Anyone know where we can put 5.3 billion gallons per day until June 1? There is only one place to put that much water under the current design of Florida’s long-busted plumbing system — the sea. What everyone reading this column needs to keep in mind is that nearly every drop of this water once flowed into the Everglades.”

TC Palm: Zombie estuaries: 2021 Lake O discharges will be bad for Caloosahatchee, St. Lucie River

It is highly likely you’ve never seen a Florida panther. That’s because the official state animal is elusive, shy, and endangered. But one Florida man, who was definitely in the right place at the right time, spotted five of them in a single day – and four of them were at the same time!

CBS Miami: ‘Once In A Lifetime Event’: Miami Beach Man Spots 5 Elusive Florida Panthers In Single Day

Nestle is exhausting our natural springs in North Florida, while US Sugar and Florida Crystals drain the Everglades.
Water is the most basic of human needs. The continued disconnect between public officials and the public’s interest is mind-numbing.

Editorial: Florida is still failing to save our natural springs

“Sen. Marco Rubio and all 27 U.S. House members from Florida signed the letter to Biden. Sen. Rick Scott was the only Florida delegation member who didn’t sign it.” Bad decision, Senator Scott. The feds are woefully behind in funding their share of the projects. The clock is ticking faster, restoration demands are more apparent than ever. “Now is the time to put the pedal to the metal to stop discharges and send the water south once and for all.” Congressman Brian Mast, R-Palm City, said Thursday.

TC PALM: Florida congressional delegation asks Biden for $725 million for Everglades restoration

“Is recent crazy weather tied to climate change?” Some of it is. Learn more. It is important.

The New York Times: Climate Change Is Complex. We’ve Got Answers to Your Questions.

Following the launch of the new book, Moving Water: The Everglades and Big Sugar, comes a spirited discussion between the author, Amy Green, and Everglades restoration pioneer Mary Barley. Rounding out the panel, two veteran investigative reporters share insights into the environmental and economic fiasco we continue to battle.

Watch: An Evening with the Everglades, featuring Amy Green and Mary Barley

We are thrilled with this progress. Watch this quick video from Captains For Clean Water to catch up on the latest and greatest. Explosions here are good news for restoration!

Watch: The EAA Reservoir: Cornerstone project for Everglades restoration