This is the week that the national media have finally started reporting on the incredible algae blooms along both Florida coasts, although a call to action started to go out as early as February. (See ” “Blackwater” Discharges Threaten Florida’s Indian River Lagoon and St. Lucie Inlet.”) The cause of this disaster is discharges of untreated fresh water from Lake Okeechobee into the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie estuaries. Traditionally, this water flowed southward, through the Everglades.
The results of this water diversion are increased salinity in Florida Bay and the Keys, and decreased salinity along both coasts–spreading outward from the two estuaries. Back in March, more than 200 respected Everglades scientists signed a petition that read, in part:
As a scientist working in the Everglades, it is my scientific opinion that increased storage and treatment of fresh water south of Lake Okeechobee, and additional flow from the lake southward, is essential to restoring the Everglades, Florida Bay, and the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie estuaries.
Organizations such as bullsugar.org and Captains for Clean Water—grassroots organizations led by concerned citizens and members of the sportfishing industry—as well as Bonefish & Tarpon Trust, the Everglades Foundation, and Audubon Florida have been demanding that the state of Florida acknowledge indisputable science and work toward real solutions to the water crisis. (This article in the Miami New Times offers a good summary.) To that end, bullsugar.org launched the “Now or Neverglades Declaration” this morning, as a means for collecting signatures of concerned citizens from around the world to put pressure on Florida politicians to do the right thing.
Orvis’s top executives made a point of having a signing ceremony to show that the company is 100% behind the goals outlined in the Declaration:
- To stop the damaging discharges to the coastal estuaries;
- To restore the flow of clean, fresh water to Everglades National Park, Florida Bay and the Florida Keys;
- To improve the health of Lake Okeechobee;
- To protect the drinking water for 8 million Floridians living in Monroe, Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties; and
- Identify and secure land south of the lake without delay, before development in the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) or other uncertainties condemn our waters to irrevocable destruction.
Whether you are an angler who loves to cast for bonefish, snook, permit, redfish, tarpon, or any of the other game fish that inhabit these fragile ecosystems, or you are simply a concerned citizen who doesn’t want to see an ecological treasure destroyed, please sign the “Now or Neverglades Declaration” and share it through social media. The more people that we can get to sign the Declaration, the more pressure we can put on lawmakers to break down the political obstacles to progress.