Press Release Jan 7, 2016

Everglades Coalition Focuses on State and Federal Restoration Progress at 31st Annual Conference

Everglades Coalition Conference welcomes nearly 300 participants to discuss opportunities and challenges facing America's Everglades

Coral Gables, FL – The 31st annual Everglades Coalition Conference, Voices of the Everglades: All for Restoration, kicks off today and will focus on the Coalition’s state and national restoration priorities for the coming year. This year’s conference, open to the public, will welcome nearly 300 participants, including elected officials, agency staff, academics, students, business leaders, and community and environmental advocates, to discuss the many opportunities and challenges facing America’s Everglades and Florida’s estuaries.

The conference will also celebrate the upcoming centennial of the National Park Service and highlight recent restoration successes including the groundbreaking of the C-44 Reservoir and Stormwater Treatment area, a critical project to restore and protect natural resources in the St. Lucie Estuary and Indian River Lagoon; beginning a long-awaited phase of the C-111 South Dade project that will increase water flow into important ecosystems; and securing funding for the next phase of Tamiami Trail bridging expected to begin on Earth Day later this year.

“We are thrilled to see so many critical restoration projects moving forward, but we can’t afford to lose momentum,” said Cara Capp, national co-chair for the Everglades Coalition and Everglades restoration program manager for the National Parks Conservation Association. “At the federal level, sustained funding to continue Everglades restoration and congressional authorization of the Central Everglades Planning Project (CEPP) in a water resources bill this year are the Coalition’s major federal goals for 2016. We look forward to working with our diverse group of partners and advocates to continue restoring Everglades National Park and Florida’s estuaries.”

“Another priority for the Coalition this year is the passage of the Legacy Florida bill, a state bill to dedicate 25% of the Land Acquisition Trust Fund for Everglades restoration,” said Jason Totoiu, state co-chair for the Everglades Coalition and executive director at the Everglades Law Center. “We know that dedicated funding for restoration is the best way to ensure the health of our Everglades, an economic engine for Florida and an important source of drinking water for nearly eight million people. As the state legislature continues working on these critical issues, we’ll work with them to make even more progress in restoring America’s Everglades.”

Additionally, the Coalition will use the conference to showcase the economic significance of Everglades and Biscayne National Parks and the value of restoring the Everglades. Together, Everglades and Biscayne National Parks alone supported more than 1,700 private-sector jobs and generated $166 million for the economy during 2014 through recreational and commercial fishing, boating, snorkeling, and other activities.

Another major topic that will be discussed is the ecological crisis facing Florida Bay due to chronic low freshwater flows and the negative economic impact of associated seagrass die-offs and declining fish populations. A special workshop will be held Saturday afternoon on Protecting the Everglades with Sustainable Energy. Experts will be available to discuss emerging threats related to new oil, gas, and nuclear projects in the Everglades as well as opportunities for more sustainable development. Other timely topics to be discussed at the conference include wildlife management, invasive species, sea level rise mitigation, sustainable energy, climate change, and urban development.

Confirmed speakers at the conference include: Michael J. Bean, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks, U.S. Department of the Interior; Assistant Secretary of the Army, Jo-Ellen Darcy; Senator Bill Nelson; Congressman Curt Clawson; Congressman Patrick Murphy; Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz; Former U.S. Senator and Florida Governor Bob Graham; Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commissioner Ron Bergeron; Florida Rep. Heather Fitzenhagen; Florida Rep. Gayle Harrell; Theresa Pierno, President and CEO, National Parks Conservation Association; Dr. Edie Widder, CEO & Senior Counsel, Ocean Research and Conservation Association; and Collin O’Mara, President and CEO, National Wildlife Federation.

To find out more information on how to register and attend, go to http://www.evergladescoalition.org/conference

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About Everglades Coalition
The Everglades Coalition Conference is the largest annual forum for Everglades conservation and restoration. The annual conference brings together the Everglades Coalition’s more than 50 allied organizations with local, state and federal partners, to engage in meaningful discussions about restoring America’s Everglades. This year’s conference is hosted by the Florida Wildlife Federation and the National Wildlife Federation and is themed Voices of the Everglades: All for Restoration. For additional information, please visit our website at www.evergladescoalition.org/conference, follow along on Twitter @EverCoalition, and join the conversation online using #EVCO2016.

About National Parks Conservation Association
Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its more than one million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s natural, historical, and cultural heritage for future generations. For more information, visit www.npca.org.