Thursday, April 8, 2010

Paradise in Limbo....

My sister says they are going to remove - kill all the inland mangroves.  The tea trees.  She says that many species of trees and plants are marked for purposeful extinction because they aren't indigenous.  They have ruined the ecosystem.  Yes, well...they have none the less made their place here.  Like so much humanity rushing down into the sun as twilight time sets in or as the lack of opportunities in cold climes convince them that it's frozen financially where they are.   All too well.... from the industrialized settlement of Florida one hundred and thirty years ago on through the bootlegging ambitions building the major roadways of the most southern shorelines... or even the American Indians who were run down into the rivers of grass as outcasts, south Florida has generously hosted the misplaced.  And now my Indigenous younger sister tells me that some of the plant life is to be made extinct even as our most beautiful natural resources languish in courtrooms, yet again.  Paradise... the River of Grass.  One of the most unique and special ecosystems' on the planet is dying.  Our Everglades.  As stewards, south Floridians have failed miserably.   Marjorie Stoneman Douglas weeps celestial tears as we halt, step aside from the effort, exclude the most urgent... she who continued on for 108 years ... most of it spent in advocating the restoration and preservation of the Everglades.  The most unique of ecosystems, the Everglades nurture plant and animal species found nowhere else on the planet.  Or as Ms. Douglas opened up her book; The Everglades: River of Grass (the term she coined) "...There are no other Everglades in the world..."  Here in 2010 south Florida, there still are no other Everglades in the world, yet these might be gone before your children grow into retirement.  They might not even last that long.  The fresh waters flowing from the Okeechobee Lake into the southern glades has atrophied to such extent that plant species are burned up and out.  Indigenous animal populations are gone extinct and many continue into that category.  While these are global symptoms of a greater dying planet, acting locally and thinking globally is still the most sustainable and moral lifestyle to choose.  What can we do to reverse it?
In February of last year:
[The Everglades would get $183.4 million for restoration work this year under a spending bill unveiled today by House Democrats.
Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a member of the Appropriations Committee, said the funds would ``go a long way toward fulfilling the federal government’s commitment to help restore the Everglades. These funds will also help provide construction-related jobs for Floridians at a time of real economic need.”
The Everglades money is tucked into a sweeping $410-billion ``omnibus’’ spending bill released today by the committee. Wasserman Schultz’ staff said the House will consider the bill as early as Wednesday, with the Senate likely to take up its version next week.
The federal government has poured millions into preliminary work in the Everglades but has yet to meet its commitment to pay half the costs for construction under a comprehensive restoration plan. The state, already paying for construction, plans to cover the other half.
The House bill would provide funding for the current fiscal year ending in September. Funding for this fiscal year had been long delayed because of disagreements in Congress along party lines.
Everglades proponents also hope to get restoration funding through the economic-recovery bill that Obama signed into law.
The $183.4 million for the Everglades includes $123.4 million for projects carried out by the Army Corps of Engineers, including work on Picayune Strand in Collier County and the Indian River Lagoon in Martin County.
It also includes $60 million through the Department of Interior for a Modified Waters Deliveries Project, which is designed to allow a more natural waterflow across the Tamiami Trail in Miami-Dade County into Everglades National Park.]  Sun Sentinel

After nearly two years of political fights and legal battles over Gov. Charlie Crist's Everglades-restoration land deal, the Florida Supreme Court now decides whether the public benefit is worth the cost to South Florida taxpayers.
Supporters and opponents of Crist's $536 million bid to buy 73,000 acres from U.S. Sugar Corp. argued their sides Wednesday morning before the Florida Supreme Court.
Opponents, led by the Miccosukee Tribe and U.S. Sugar rival Florida Crystals, maintain that $536 million costs taxpayers too much and takes money away from already overdue Everglades-restoration projects. / Sun Sentinel 
The battle enjoins the local Miccosukees who do not have a record at all as stewards, rather they are more content to share out winnings at Hard Rock.  And they are the severest against the land deal going through as Miccosukee Attorney Dexter Lehtinen complained that the South Florida Water Management District has no specific plan for, or ability to pay for any construction of reservoirs and treatment areas proposed for the U.S. Sugar land.
Yet wildlife and environmentalist groups have steadfastly pushed to see this project go forward in conservation of our natural environment, especially the River of Grass.
"This land acquisition provides the best and last chance for significant Everglades restoration," attorney Thom Rumberger, representing Audubon of Florida, told the justices. "It's an essential part of Everglades restoration."

So why are the local Indians so against this plan for natural environmental conservatism?  Here is some background by the Miccosukee:
Water Quality Issues in the Everglades
The tribe filed a lawsuit over 10 years ago challenging the water quality standards in the delicate marshland. They say they are caught in the middle. Their land is caught between protected agriculture land and Everglades National Park; the agriculture land is releasing high phosphorus-laden water into the marshland. This water is then making its way through the tribal lands creating serious problems for the Miccosukee.
"Former U.S. Attorney Dexter Lehtinen sued the state in 1988, claiming it was not adhering to its own regulations for clean water. That lawsuit was settled in 1991 in a deal which laid out a plan to clean up the Everglades by 2002. However, the state Legislature passed the Everglades Forever Act in 1994, which altered the dates of the restoration and some of the standards. It also does not provide for the elimination of pollution from the western basin, an area of the Miccosukee Reservation. The tribe claims the area would have been cleaned under the original settlement." (Testa) The tribe wants the state to comply with the original timetable to restore the Everglades.
B. What the Miccosukee want done to preserve their Land
The tribes have set up their own environmental projects to help protect and preserve the Everglades. These projects are designed "to protect the land and water systems within the Reservation while ensuring a sustainable economic and cultural future for the Tribe". (Land) In November 1989, the Seminole Tribal Council created the Seminole Water Commission to oversee the Water Resource Management Department(WRMD). "The WRMD's mission is to protect and evaluate the Tribe's land and water resources and to facilitate the wise use and conservation of these resources by other departments." (Water) The Tribal Environmental Programs include: authority to implement the Clean Water Act within the Tribe's jurisdiction, spill prevention plans for above ground storage tanks and removal programs for underground storage tank facilities, participate in task forces to restore the South Florida ecosystem. (Land)

What stands right now is an ongoing fight as to who has the natural environment best interests in value.  The troubling aspect of it all is that as the legal battles endlessly circulate, the River of Grass continues to die.  And this provokes a question___ why hasn't US Sugar Corporation, a company responsible for active destruction of the Everglades and profit in Florida for decades not enjoined the restoration project and contributed much more of the land in question?  Humm?

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