ROAD TRIP TO RESTORATION
“…AND, WE’RE OFF!”
by Liz Amore
Director of Marketing & Communications, The Everglades Foundation
It has been 16 years since everybody — Democrats, Republicans, growers, environmentalists, scientists, engineers, EVERYBODY involved in Everglades issues — embarked on a bold plan to increase water storage south of Lake Okeechobee.
Sixteen years later, The Everglades Foundation did some “embarking” of our own: a 12-day, 20-city bus tour to convince the politicians to finally do what they promised.
For all these years, the people of Florida have borne the brunt of the politicians’ failure to act: toxic blue-green algae along both our coasts in the wet season and droughts in the dry months, all while Florida’s Everglades dies off, bit by bit.
And so, as the sun came up yesterday morning, The Everglades Foundation took to the road. It will be the shortest leg of our journey, by far: from our offices in Palmetto Bay to our first tour stop, Miami’s Wynwood Arts District.
There, Miami media and a Facebook Live! audience learned of The Foundation’s “#NowOrNeverglades Agenda.”
The Foundation CEO Eric Eikenberg unveiled the 4,000-word agenda: a roadmap that will guide the next President, Congress, Florida Governor Scott and the Legislature toward construction of the major water storage reservoir that was identified as a critical component of Everglades restoration all those years ago.
At a news conference at Gramps’ Restaurant in Wynwood, The Foundation Vice Chair and former Eagle Brands CEO Carlos de la Cruz said that Florida’s tourist industry will remember 2016 as “the Lost Year.”
Thanks to the failure of policymakers to follow through on plans for a water storage reservoir, de la Cruz said, 2016 will be remembered for “closed beaches and fishing restrictions” caused by the smelly blue-green tide.
“It is killing jobs and real estate values just as it is killing sport fish and wildlife,” he said.
Celeste De Palma, the Everglades Policy Associate for Audubon Florida, noted that more than economics is at stake: there are more than 65 Everglades species are threatened or on the verge of extinction in that very special place.
“The Everglades is our treasure; restoring it is our future,” De Palma said.
As dozens of The Foundation staff and volunteers fanned out across the busy Wynwood District getting signatures for the #NowOrNeverglades Declaration, Dade County Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava said that Everglades restoration has finally gained traction because of the “Guacamole tides on both our coasts and the Yellow Fog in Florida Bay.”
You can join the fight by texting WATER to 66866, or by visiting EvergladesFoundation.org/NowOrNeverglades-Declaration, and you can watch our Wynwood news conference on Facebook Live! at Facebook.com/EvergladesFoundation.
Next stop: Orlando. Stay tuned.