Press Release Jan 9, 2015

Everglades Coalition Focuses on Sending Water South to Everglades National Park at 30th Anniversary Conference

30th Annual Everglades Coalition Conference Kicks Off in Key Largo, FL.

Key Largo, Fla. – The 30th annual Everglades Coalition Conference (#EVCO2015), kicks off today and will highlight the Coalition’s vision and priorities for continuing strong support for Everglades restoration efforts in 2015 and beyond. Celebrating the last 30 years of significant successes in advancing Everglades restoration, this year’s conference brings together nearly 300 business leaders, community and environmental advocates, and state and federal elected officials to discuss the many opportunities and challenges facing America’s Everglades and Florida’s coastal communities this year. U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and U.S. Assistant Secretary of the Army Jo-Ellen Darcy will also participate in the conference.

Building on recent successes and the momentum for restoring America’s Everglades, the 30th anniversary conference theme is Send it South: Water for America’s Everglades and will focus on the immediate need to store and redirect water away from coastal estuaries back towards Everglades National Park and Florida Bay. The Everglades Coalition will announce its priorities and vision for implementing meaningful restoration in 2015 and its 2025 Vision for the Everglades, which outlines goals regarding water quality, climate change, invasive species management, endangered species recovery, energy production and more.

“We look forward to the groundbreaking of the next 2.6 miles of bridging along Tamiami Trail thanks in part to the $20 million federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) Grant awarded to the National Park Service and the state,” said Cara Capp, national co-chair for the Everglades Coalition and Everglades restoration program manager for the National Parks Conservation Association. “A sustained fiscal and political commitment from our federal partners is essential to continue this momentum in order to restore freshwater water flows back to Everglades National Park and Florida Bay.”

America’s Everglades is recognized as the world’s largest ecosystem restoration project and the past several years have yielded significant progress including: the $20 million TIGER grant to begin bridging the additional 2.6-miles along Tamiami Trail, the signed Army Corps Chief’s Report for the Central Everglades Planning Project (CEPP), the 2014 Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) which authorized four critical Everglades projects, and the overwhelming public support for Florida’s Water and Land Legacy, which was passed by voters last November and will help to increase the state’s investment in conservation lands in the Everglades region and beyond.  As momentum continues to restore America’s Everglades, which provides drinking water to 7,000,000 people, every $1 invested in Everglades restoration returns at least $4 in economic benefits to the surrounding communities.

“A priority for the Coalition in 2015 is the ability to send water south through a state land acquisition of 46,800 acres in the Everglades Agricultural Area, which the state has the option to purchase through October 2015,” said Jason Totoiu, state co-chair for the Everglades Coalition and executive director at the Everglades Law Center. “Through the leadership of Governor Scott’s administration the state can work to acquire this critically located land south of Lake Okeechobee this year. Doing so will assist in reducing harmful discharges to the struggling Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie estuary communities, improve the health of Lake Okeechobee, and increase flow to Everglades National Park.”

Celebrating 30 years of Everglades restoration advocacy, this year’s conference is hosted by the National Parks Conservation Association. Confirmed participants include: U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, U.S. Assistant Secretary of the Army Jo-Ellen Darcy, Major General John Peabody, Congressman Patrick Murphy (FL-18), Congressman Alcee Hastings (FL-20), Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-23), Congressman Curt Clawson (FL-19), former U.S. Senator and Florida Governor Bob Graham, Florida Representative Holly Raschein, Florida Representative Mark Pafford, Florida Representative Heather Fitzenhagen, Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Gus Pego, and Monroe County Commissioner George Neugent.

For additional information, please visit evergladescoalition.org/conference or follow us on Twitter @EverCoalition #EVCO2015.

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About the Everglades Coalition and annual Conference: The Everglades Coalition Conference is the largest annual forum for Everglades conservation and restoration, bringing together more than 50 allied organizations represented in the coalition with local, state and federal partners to engage in meaningful discussions about restoring America’s Everglades.