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Florida Wildlife Federation Seeks to Delay Everglades Agricultural Area Storage Reservoir

November 29, 2018 - 6:30pm

On Nov. 8, the South Florida Water Management District (District) Governing Board approved a land lease directed by state law. This action immediately terminated agricultural operations on 560 acres in the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) and gave the District full control of land within the central footprint of the EAA Storage Reservoir Project.

On Nov. 14, the District began critical site work on the 560 acres needed to expedite the project while following the will of the Legislature and allowing agricultural operations to continue on the remaining land until such time as the land in question is necessary for construction. This is a project that all parties agree is necessary for addressing damaging Lake Okeechobee discharges to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries and sending additional, clean water south.

A legal challenge filed Wednesday by the Florida Wildlife Federation is not at all surprising (Click here to read it.) Trying to prevent the District from expediting and completing the EAA Storage Reservoir is consistent with the Florida Wildlife Federation's prior actions.

This is the same group that filed another lawsuit against the state and Sen. Joe Negron -- the biggest champion of the EAA Storage Reservoir -- seeking to block the Florida Legislature from using Amendment 1 funds to build restoration projects. If ultimately successful in their attempt, the Florida Wildlife Federation's actions could halt the District's restoration efforts on approximately 1 million acres of public land acquired using more than $1.5 billion of taxpayer dollars.

Furthermore, this group celebrated a judge's ruling restricting the use of Amendment 1 funds on lands long held on the public's behalf. An attorney representing the Florida Wildlife Federation even brazenly told news outlet POLITICO FLORIDA that "a large number of Everglades restoration projects, such as a proposed reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee, no longer can be funded with Amendment 1 revenue."

The Florida Legislature represents 21 million Floridians. The Florida Wildlife Federation touts a membership of 14,000 people.

The Florida Legislature directed that construction of the EAA Storage Reservoir be expedited using Amendment 1 funds and compromised that the land remain agricultural before reservoir construction is ready to proceed. With the District Governing Board approving an agreement to allow crucial geotechnical and rock staging work to begin on the reservoir this month, why would a special interest group attack the very funding stream and legislative compromise needed to expedite the reservoir desired by so many?

The next step in the legal process is for the District to evaluate the Florida Wildlife Federation's legal petition. Florida law requires that the District carefully review the legal petition to determine whether it substantially complies with Florida's Administrative Procedures Act.

Comments

Reading the (here anonymous SFWMD) spin response on SSN, one would never understand that the only "delay" addressed in the Florida Wildlife Federation's legal petition is the one about the SFWMD's attempt to impose a delay --> "The New Lease and the Amendment do not meet the objectives of section 373.4598, Florida Statutes because it delays construction on that project for at least two years" . . . . . . . . not to mention other violations of state law . . . . . . . . . perhaps the District should stop trying to misdirect and pass unknown resolutions without complying with state law . . . . you know, making decisions actually INCLUDING the people, rather than WITHOUT the people . . . . . . . . . . . . . . the District (and environmental protection) under Rick Scott . . . . . . . PATHETIC . . . .

Frank, What are you talking about or do you need help? It's called a public records request and you can get all of the data and information you are seeking. Here's the address: publicrecords@sfwmd.gov. Try it out.. No anonymous spin from SFWMD. I work for them and will be glad to walk you through all of the public records. If your legal representative needs clarification I can help too. Thanks. Randy

Somehow, this tone doesn't sound like the SFWMD Randy Smith I've known for many years . . . . . . . the simple fact that there's significant outcry over the way this was handled should convince even you that the process was highly flawed (i.e. adding an major, controversial agenda item after 9pm the night before the morning meeting when the District had been considering this for a week or more) . . . . . . . transparent, it wasn't . . . . . . . . and has nothing to do with after-the-fact public records requests, and you should know that (if it's even really the SFWMD Randy Smith) . . . . . . . . . as for Rick Scott's impact on Florida's environment and Florida politics . . . . . . . . . absolutely . . . . . . . . PATHETIC . . .

As usual, Frank must be contrary. I on the other hand appreciate an agency that follows the Legislature's directive, rather than a stall-and-lawyer-get-rich scheme from another arm of the Everglades Foundation that puts shutting down a sugar operation ahead of a reservoir we in Martin County desperately don't want delayed. Thank you, WMD, for fighting back with this good oped. You hit the nail.

Gee, it must be an inconvenient truth for you that incoming Republican Governor DeSantis and Rep. Mast previously made the following joint statement about this SFWMD action before it happened --> “Given that the current lease does not expire until March and because we did not receive enough advance notice on this proposed vote to ensure that this extension would not delay construction of the EAA Southern Storage Reservoir, we urge the South Florida Water Management District to delay their planned vote tomorrow. The EAA Southern Storage Reservoir is a critical component of Everglades Restoration and our joint efforts to prevent harmful algal blooms. We will not support any lease extension that could delay the construction of the reservoir in direct contradiction of the intention of both the United States Congress and Florida Legislature.” . . . . . . . . . or don't you "KNOW" Ron DeSantis as you've previously claimed elsewhere on SSN . . . . . . . . . . . . . . denial of the facts, and false claims otherwise, as always . . . . . . . . . . . . PATHETIC . . .

So let's see, Frank. You wanted to take up a few months squabbling and forfeit the dry season so nothing could get done for a whole year, just so you bunch of loudmouths could kick the WMD around in front of cameras? Where does Congressman Mast and a governor elect get off coming in and dictating terms to these people who have worked their butts off on this reservoir to make sure it gets authorized? The lease extension doesn't delay the reservoir but a lawsuit does. So have at it. Just know some of us believe you have your priorities wrong, sir.

And you don't know what you're talking about, nor what the suit is all about . . . would you like to discuss state law on this issue (which I'm pretty sure I know much more about, given that I worked with this issue for 30+ years) . . . . . or the science . . . . . . or reading legal documents . . . . . . . . . . . . . perhaps you'd at least go read the lawsuit, then read relevant state statutes to become more informed . . . . . . after that, go talk to District staff actually involved with Everglades Restoration (i.e. not the Board, not the PR personnel nor their legal staff) . . . . . . . . . after you've involved yourself and walked the walk, come back and we'll have an informed discussion . . . . . . . . . . . until then, uninformed partisan truthiness is just . . . . . . . . . . PATHETIC. . . . . . . (and I'm so reassured with your hypocrisy about the DeSantis "I KNOW" as you stated elsewhere on SSN, and the fact that you're clueless about the role Mast plays in Everglades Restoration - it's not like his District includes part of Lake Okeechobee, you know) . . . .

We don't know each well enough to draw conclusions about our credentials. I have a few of my own that are relative here. The biggest difference between us besides our priorities is I prefer to treat you with respect and would not label you or anyone else as "pathetic." Why must your calling card on this page be a putdown? I don't think it helps you win your arguments.

Yes, yes, you must be right and not a liar --> "I prefer to treat you with respect ...would not label you" . . . . . . which is why you stated above --> "just so you bunch of loudmouths could kick the WMD around in front of cameras" . . . . . . . . . . I was raised not to lie, cheat, steal nor tolerate those who do . . . . . . . I don't, do you . . . . . . . do you lie or tolerate a liar (try proven liars Trump and Rick Scott) . . . . . . . do you . . . . . . . . . . . . thought so . . . . . . . . . . PATHETIC . . . .

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