Press Release Jan 10, 2014

Everglades Coalition and Allies Offers Plans to Protect Everglades Costal Communities at Annual Conference

This year’s 29th annual Everglades Coalition Conference, held January 9-11, 2014, will share its vision and priorities for continuing strong support for Everglades restoration efforts in 2014.

Coral Gables, Fla. – This year’s 29th annual Everglades Coalition Conference (#EVCO2014), held January 9-11, 2014, will share its vision and priorities for continuing strong support for Everglades restoration efforts in 2014. The Coalition brings together business leaders, elected officials, including members of the recently reinvigorated Congressional Everglades Caucus, and community and environmental advocates to discuss the many opportunities and challenges facing America’s Everglades and invaluable coastal ecosystems in 2014 and beyond.
This year’s conference sessions will focus on the health and future of our coastal communities and the important connection these resources have to our state’s economy. In addition, sessions will address challenges such as sea level rise, nutrient pollution and other factors affecting restoration efforts. The Everglades Coalition will also announce its priorities and vision for implementing meaningful restoration in 2014.

America’s Everglades is recognized as one of the world’s unique and spectacular natural wonders. The past several years yielded significant progress for restoration efforts including, the congressional authorization of additional bridging along Tamiami Trail, a historic water quality plan that provides an achievable path forward for reducing pollution entering and degrading the Everglades ecosystem, and the legislative passage of a statewide annual Everglades Day, which will be recognized on April 7 each year. Significant progress has also been made with the Central Everglades Planning Project (CEPP) to increase restoration funding at the state level.

“In recent years, we have seen unprecedented progress for Everglades restoration including the completion of the first mile of bridging on Tamiami Trail and the recent commitment by Florida Governor Rick Scott to invest $90 million over the next three years to facilitate the next 2.6 miles of bridging,” said Cara Capp, national co-chair for the Everglades Coalition. “The critical need for progress on these and other restoration initiatives in order to alleviate the ongoing degradation of Florida’s east and west coast estuaries will be highlighted throughout the conference.”

Over the last five years, Everglades restoration projects have generated 10,500 jobs in Florida with more than 442,000 jobs expected to be created over the next several decades in tourism, real estate and commercial and recreational fishing industries. More than 10 years after the original Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan was adopted by Congress, Everglades restoration projects are well under way and Floridians are reaping the benefits. Everglades restoration is a critical element of combating climate change and sea level rise in South Florida and for every $1 invested in Everglades restoration, $4 is generated in economic benefits to the surrounding communities. “A sustained fiscal and political commitment from our state and federal partners is essential for advancing Everglades restoration, including securing the passage of a Water Resource Development Act in 2013, ” said Jennifer Hecker, state co-chair for the Everglades Coalition. “Without continued timely authorizations and appropriations of funding, we will be unable to maintain our momentum for restoration efforts needed to reverse the ecological degradation that is threatening wildlife, our water supply, and South Florida economies that depend on this iconic natural resource.”

The Everglades Coalition collectively agrees that:
•The restoration, protection and enhancement of the Greater Everglades Ecosystem is essential for protecting a national treasure as well as Florida’s economy and water supply.
•Supporting and providing education and public understanding regarding all aspects of the Everglades Ecosystem is essential to protecting the Everglades.
•Sponsoring research that supports the protection, restoration and enhancement of the Everglades Ecosystem is vital to efficient use of public dollars in maximizing effectiveness of restoration efforts.
•Facilitating the coordination of information resources, strategies and efforts among Everglades Coalition members will create an informed and engaged constituency for supporting Everglades restoration efforts.

“Governor Rick Scott’s commitment of investing $90 million over the next three years is vital to the importance of Everglades restoration,” said Eric Eikenberg, Everglades Foundation CEO. “America’s Everglades provides drinking water for more than seven million Floridians and is a critical driver of our state’s economy. We look forward to working with the Governor on the critical issues facing America’s Everglades.”

This year’s conference theme is Everglades Restoration: Protecting Costal Communities and the event is hosted by the Everglades Foundation. Confirmed participants for this year’s 29th annual conference include: U.S. Assistant Secretary of the Army Jo-Ellen Darcy, Former U.S. Senator and Governor Bob Graham, U.S. Congressman Patrick Murphy, U.S. Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart, South Florida Water Management District Executive Director Blake Guillory, Florida Senator Joe Negron, Florida Senator Maria Sachs, Florida Senator Lizbeth Benacquisto, Florida Representative Mark Pafford and many others. Invited participants include: U.S. Department of Interior Secretary Sally Jewell.

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About the Everglades Coalition: The Everglades Coalition Conference is the largest annual forum for Everglades conservation and restoration, bringing together the Coalition’s 50 allied organizations with local, state and federal partners. For additional information, please visit our website at: www.evergladescoalition.org.

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.