|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
|Date:||January 19, 2007|
|Contact:||John Adornato, National Co-Chair, Everglades Coalition, 954-309-9307
Mark Perry, State Co-Chair, Everglades Coalition, 772-486-3858
Coalition Unveils Everglades Restoration Essentials and 2007 Action Plan
(Orlando, FL) – At its 22nd Annual Conference, the Everglades Coalition today released its 2007 restoration essentials and action agenda for achieving Everglades restoration. Development, invasive species, and poor water management decisions continue to threaten the wildlife habitat and spatial extent of the Everglades. To address these threats, the Coalition of 48 environmental organizations identified nine restoration essentials that are crucial to the success of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP). The Coalition calls upon the state and federal government to implement these actions in efforts to restore America’s Everglades.
“Congress approved the CERP six years ago. Now it’s time to implement the plan,” said David Anderson, Executive Director of Audubon of Florida, host of this year’s conference. “This year’s restoration essentials provide an action plan for supporting the restoration, protection, and enhancement of the greater Everglades ecosystem.”
The Coalition calls upon the federal and state governments to advance the following restoration essentials.
1. Restore the historic sheet flow in the southern Everglades and to Florida Bay
2. Restore the historic sheet flow in the Everglades
3. Provide adequate water storage for the ecological needs of Everglades National Park and the Water Conservation Areas
4. Provide for large wet year flows from Lake Okeechobee to the Everglades
5. Provide additional water storage to protect the estuaries and Lake Okeechobee
6. Restore the Kissimmee River
7. Improve and protect water quality
8. Prevent development that undermines the greater Everglades ecosystem protection and restoration
9. Restore the federal-state partnership
In past years, the Coalition has called for a contingency plan for the Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) plan, however, there remains no evidence to show that it will work. If implemented, these restoration essentials will serve to replace the ASR plan by increasing the spatial extent of wetlands, maximizing sheetflow and natural water flow patterns, and reestablishing the dynamic storage capacity, timing and distribution in the Everglades. The only way to achieve these elements of restoration is to remove barriers to flow and create storage capacity.
“More water must be sent south to Everglades National Park and Florida Bay to protect Lake Okeechobee and the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries,” said John Adornato, National Co-Chair, the Everglades Coalition and Everglades Restoration Program Manager for National Parks Conservation Association. “Water needs to be stored, cleaned, and delivered to the southern Everglades to reestablish the historic River of Grass.”
In addition to the nine restoration essentials identified by the Coalition, the group has identified specific steps that must be taken in 2007 to achieve Everglades restoration. By securing additional funding and support from both the federal government and the State of Florida, Everglades restoration can begin to move forward.
“Congress failed in 2006 to authorize our two priority projects: Indian River Lagoon-South and Picayune Strand. It must succeed in 2007 to keep the federal-state partnership viable,” said Mark Perry, State Co-Chair, The Everglades Coalition and Executive Director, Florida Oceanographic Society. “The debilitating conditions of the Lake and estuaries in 2006 prove even more that we need to restore America’s Everglades.”
“The Coalition urges Congress and the Administration to provide an additional $283 million for Everglades restoration in 2008,” said April Gromnicki, Assistant Director, Government Affairs, Audubon. “This money will help put Everglades restoration back on schedule and reaffirm the federal-state partnership.”
The Everglades Coalition annual conference seeks to raise critical, timely issues to the surface for in-depth debates in an open, accessible forum. Senators, Members of Congress, and political figures come to discuss their positions, pledge their support and offer challenges to the community. Conference session’s focus on topics such as growth management, political and public partnerships, endangered and invasive species, wildlife habitat, energy policies, water quality and flow plans. It is the largest annual forum for debate of Everglades conservation and restoration.