September 2002 Newsletter Articles
Why Sierra Club and NRDC are in Court Over Mining in the Everglades
It is unfortunate, even tragic with 95% of the wading birds gone in the Everglades that the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) would permit the destruction of thousands of acres of Everglades wetlands for limestone mining. In fact, the endangered wood stork is declining in the Everglades due to loss of feeding habitat to development and limestone mining. The Corps ignored the South Florida Water Management District report that stated almost 90% of all wood storks located in Everglades National Park are nesting near the mining area.
The proposed mining ? and the resulting deep pits ? will expose the County's drinking water to possible contamination. This means that the County will need to spend several hundred million dollars to construct a treatment plant to filter out the contamination. And you don't need to guess who is going to pay for that - higher water bills. Adding insult to injury the Corps euphemistically calls these mining pits the "Lake Belt" area. A tragic joke considering the square or rectangle murky lifeless pits that will soon line the eastern side of the Everglades!
Just as it kicks off the largest ecological restoration project in history, spending billions of taxpayer dollars to restore the Everglades, the Corps has turned around and issued approvals for the destruction of 5,400 acres of Everglades wetlands. And this is just the first phase of LONG-TERM plans to allow a total of 21,000 acres over the next 50 years. Believe it or not the Corps actually claims that the mining is part of its master plan for restoring the Everglades. They assert that the mining pits might eventually hold water for the Everglades. Forget the fact that the limestone is more porous than Swiss Cheese and no one has the faintest idea of whether the pits will hold water. Or that these cheesy pits will be draining the Everglades in the meantime. Or that experts have said that the water won't be clean enough to deliver to the Everglades.
Can we trust the Corps to restore the Everglades if this is their idea of how to do it? Can we trust the politicians in the White House, Congress and Tallahassee who haven't lifted a finger to stop this scheme -- no surprise given all the campaign contributions they receive from the mining industry.
How did we reach this pass? By one long trail of looking the otherway. This scheme is just too preposterous to allow. And that is why we are going to court. (Suit was filed August 20th)
...by Barbara Lange, Everglades Co-Chair,
Sierra Club Florida Chapter
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Florida Scrub-Jay Festival
The Florida Scrub-Jay Festival will be held September 28, 2002 from 10:00am to 5:00pm at Fox Lake Park in Titusville - Rain or Shine. All proceeds will benefit the Florida Scrub-Jay habitat protection and education.
The ticket price includes an Old Fashioned Fish Fry from Dixie Crossroads Restaurant (fried catfish, boiled shrimp, crab bites, baked beans, coleslaw, lemonade) or vegetarian lasagna instead of sea food. Kids menu: (fried catfish or hot dog, crab bites, chocolate pudding, lemonade). Tickets also include: Live Music, Free Kayak and Airboat Rides, Scrub Habitat Tours, Activities for Children, Educational Displays and a Native Plant Sale.
Tickets are $10.00 in advance and $12.00 the day of the event. Kids are $3.00 in advance and $4.00 the day of the event. Directions: 1-95 to SR 50 east, left on SR 405, left on Fox Lake Rd to park. For Tickets contact Amy Mosher at email@example.com, Beverly at 321-631-4004, or Johna at 242-7498. Tickets will be mailed to you. Checks only. Make payable to Turtle Coast Sierra Club. Send to Turtle Coast Sierra Club, Attention: Scrub Jay Festival, P.O. Box 061887, Palm Bay, FL 32906.
Earlier this year the Partnership for a Sustainable Future and member groups petitioned the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Department of the Interior to designate critical habitat for the Florida Scrub-Jay, change its status from threatened to endangered species, complete, and implement a Revised Florida Scrub-Jay Recovery Plan and cease issuing incidental take permits until this is done. All the funds raised at this Festival will help local conservation organizations continue these efforts to protect the Scrub-Jay and other associated species that depend on scrub habitats.
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Sierra and Other Groups File Suit Against Anti-Citizen Participation Law
Against the protests of 103 environmental and community entities an amendment was added to the Everglades legislation this past session which would prohibit lawsuits by anyone who lives outside the area where the action is taking place. Large corporations are generally in favor of this type of law because it can effectively silence opposition to development. Remember: many areas of Florida don't have strong activist groups and these are the areas where oil drilling and phosphate mining are most likely to be attempted.
The entities responsible for bringing suit are the Florida Sierra Club, The Florida Wildlife Federation, Manasota-88 and the Environmental Confederation of Southwest Florida Inc. They allege that HB 813 (commonly referred to as the Everglades legislation) is unconstitutional because it deals with more than one subject.
Critics of the suit wring their hands in dismay over the possibility that Everglades Restoration funding may be delayed if the suit is successful. But consider the Washington Post expose' which has offered a convincing case of the Everglades being short changed in this restoration deal so that the "first priority" of providing water for south Florida development can be insured. Maybe it would be for the best if we paused and used this opportunity to give better direction on restoration and restored the right of citizens to intervene if they perceive a wrong.
...Frances H. Coleman
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Fast Track and Adam Putnam
In August the media had a field day trying to justify Rep. Putnam's reversal of his original vote against fast track. The consenus seemed to be that Bush was going to get the bill anyway so, in return for his going along, Rep. Putnam was given an advisory committee bone to throw his citrus supporters.
In all of this there was a universal failure to point out that fast track is horribly flawed. This sort of trade bill makes it easier to develop NAFTA type trade associations. And NAFTA poses a clear and present danger to our environment and our workers. Where are statesmen who will stand on principle and not bow to expediency?
...Frances H. Coleman
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