Each year since 1986, the Everglades Coalition's annual conference has provided the largest annual forum for debate of Everglades conservation and restoration.
Voices of the Everglades: All for Restoration. Hosted by the Florida Wildlife Federation and The National Wildlife Federation. This conference challenged each participant to bring their individual voice and perspective to the important mission of restoring America's Everglades.
Send It South: Water for America’s Everglades
Hosted by the National Parks Conservation Association. The conference focused on the challenges and opportunities we have to store, treat, and flow water from the northern and central regions of the ecosystem south to Everglades National Park and Florida Bay. Dignitaries, guest speakers and panelists included: US Dept of Interior Secretary Sally Jewell; Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Jo-Ellen Darcy; Congressman Curt Clawson, Congressman Alcee Hastings, Congressman Patrick Murphy and Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz; FL House Representative Holly Raschein; Monroe County Commissioner George Neugent; Blake Guillory, Executive Director of the South Florida Water Management District; Colonel Alan Dodd, Jacksonville District Commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; and Former Governor and U.S. Senator Bob Graham.
Everglades Restoration: Protecting Coastal Communities
Hosted by the Conservancy of Southwest Florida. Participants for the 29th Annual Conference included: U.S. Assistant Secretary of the Army Jo-Ellen Darcy, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, U.S. Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart, U.S. Congressman Patrick Murphy, Former Governor and U.S. Senator Bob Graham.
This year’s conference theme was America’s Everglades; Our Legacy, Our Future and the event is hosted by the Everglades Foundation. Participants for this year’s 28th annual conference include: Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, Congressman Joe Garcia, Congressman Patrick Murphy, Florida Governor Rick Scott, former U.S. Senator Bob Graham.
Everglades Restoration: Worth Every Penny, hosted by Earthjustice and the Everglades Foundation, was notable for a new spirit of cooperation as agencies work toward the next phase of restoration. The conference also featured Carl Hiaasen, journalist and author of bestselling novels often set in the Everglades. The Naples News reported a new phase of restoration and cooperation
This Conference, titled "Renewal of Life for the Everglades: Moving Forward Together" was hosted by the Defenders of Wildlife, the National Wildlife Federation and the Florida Wildlife Federation. We would also like to thank all of our speakers and panelists for their inspiring and thought provoking remarks. Read the remarks of Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior Ken Salazar to the attendees of the 2011 Everglades Coalition Conference.
At this celebratory Conference hosted by the Arthur R. Marshall Foundation, the Everglades Coalition released its 2020 Vision for Everglades Restoration to look forward to the next decade of restoration efforts. Representatives from the Federal Administration, including Nancy Sutley, CEQ Chairwoman, Thomas Strickland, Assistant Secretary of the Interior, Sam Hamilton, Director of the Fish and Wildlife Service, and Jo-Ellen Darcy, Assistant Secretary of the Army, pledge their support for funding and supporting restoration initiatives. Excitement from state and federal officials and environmentalists was high, as we looked forward from planning to construction.
The 24th Annual Conference, "New Opportunities, New Challenges", was held on the heels of the announcement by Governor Charlie Crist to purchase U.S. Sugar's lands for Everglades restoration and the historic election of President Obama. Hosted by the National Parks Conservation Association, the Coalition's priorities included restoring the Federal-State partnership through new Federal leadership and funding, bringing the purchase of U.S. Sugar to fruition for the benefit of the Everglades, and moving forward on bridging Tamiami Trail to allow water to flow into Everglades National Park. Governor Charlie Crist thanked the Coalition for its efforts, and Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz pledged her commitment to funding restoration.
At the 23rd Annual Conference, the Coalition built upon its 2007 Essentials for Everglades Restoration. Themed "Everglades Restoration: What do we have to lose?", and hosted by the Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation, the Coalition urged both federal and state decision-makers to re-commit to south Florida's ecosystem. Senator Bob Graham gave a rousing call for new outreach to non-traditional allies and to reform the WRDA Bill by creating a separate Water Restoration Act.
Taking the Conference to Orlando for the first time, the Coalition highlighted the vast extent of the Everglades: "Kissimmee to the Keys... Standing Firm for Everglades Restoration." Audubon of Florida hosted the 22nd Annual Conference where the Coalition released its 2007 Essentials for Everglades Restoration, identifying nine restoration essentials and benchmarks that must be achieved if CERP is going to deliver benefits as it originally promised.
Everglades Restoration: Are we making progress?
Hosted by the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, the 20th Annual Everglades Coalition Conference, Everglades Land and Water: Preserve Now to Restore Forever, convened in Naples. The Coalitions priorities included land acquisition, water reservations for the environment, growth management, and Congressional authorization of the Southern Golden Gate Estates and Indian River Lagoon South projects. The Coalition also expressed concern that federal spending for Everglades restoration was lagging behind state spending. Senator Bill Nelson addressed the conference, and Senator Bob Graham, in videotaped remarks, renewed his call for the state to limit development in the Everglades Agricultural Area and described the Scripps Research Institute as the first visible chapter in the struggle for farmland in Palm Beach County.
The National Parks Conservation Association hosted the Conference, "Everglades Restoration: Providing the Leadership, Renewing the Partnership." The Conference included an International Ecosystem Restoration Forum, which included discussions of wetland protection and restoration efforts in Iraq, the Pantanal, and the Great Lakes. U.S. Senators Bob Graham and Bill Nelson addressed the conference, as well as Congressmen Peter Deutsch, E. Clay Shaw, David Hobson and Mario Diaz-Balart. The Coalition expressed disappointment with the progress on restoring the Everglades, particularly with the State of Florida for delaying the Everglades cleanup deadline, but vowed to remain committed. The Coalition announced that its priorities for the coming year would be to clean up the water, get the first set of restoration projects approved, and fix the rules guiding the restoration plan.
The World Wildlife Fund hosted the 18th Annual Conference, "Everglades Restoration: It's Everybody's Business." The Coalition's priorities included: strengthening the federal regulations governing CERP; Congressional action on the 8.5 square mile area to restore water flows to Everglades National Park, adoption of a 10 parts per billion phosphorus standard by the State of Florida, Congressional authorization of projects, funding by the state, and growth management to prevent sprawl into the Everglades and the Florida Keys. U.S. Interior Department Secretary Gale Norton expressed strong support for an alternative to resolve the long-standing dispute over the 8.5 square mile area. Later in the conference, Senator Bob Graham proposed purchasing development rights in the Everglades Agricultural Area. Senator George Voinovich, retiring Senator Bob Smith (lead sponsor of the 2000 Everglades authorizing legislation) and Bill Leary of the White House Council on Environmental Quality also addressed the conference.
Hosted by World Wildlife Fund, the theme "Everglades Restoration: Fulfilling the Promise," alluded to concerns about whether the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan would fulfill the promise and would actually lead to restoration, or be misused by urban and agricultural interests.Keynote speakers included Senators Bob Graham and Jim Jeffords, then chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. In addition, James Connaughton, chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, and Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works) Michael Parker addressed the more than 300 people assembled for the conference. Major topics of concern at the conference were the federal regulations governing CERP released by the Corps of Engineers and the status of a formal agreement between the President and Governor to protect water for the Everglades. Senator Graham challenged them to sign the agreement by Feb. 15. Governor Bush addressed the conference in a videotaped message.
Participants were in a celebratory mood, reflecting Congressional approval of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan in the Water Resources Development Act of 2000 at the Sixteenth Annual Conference,"Everglades 2001: From Concept to Action, a Vision of the First 10 Years", hosted by Audubon of Florida. The environmentalist' optimism was tempered by the realization that many obstacles lay ahead, including fighting for funding to implement the plan and concern over the technical aspects involved in the design of a complex overhaul of the Everglades drainage system. Addressing the conference, departing U.S. Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt suggested that the time had come to take a hard look at reconnecting Lake Okeechobee to the Everglades. U.S. Senators Bob Graham, Bill Nelson and Bob Smith addressed the conference, along with Congressman E. Clay Shaw. In his speech Governor Jeb Bush admitted "we haven't managed growth in this state over the last 15 years."
"Everglades 2000: A Time to EnAct" This theme reflected the Coalition's view that the year would be the beginning of implementation of the restoration phase, a time for action. The Coalition called for Congressional authorization to enact the conceptual plan for restoration developed by the Corps of Engineers. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, headed by Senator Bob Smith, conducted a field hearing during the conference. Senators Bob Graham and George Voinovich attended the hearing and also addressed the conference. Senator Smith, having recently replaced the late Senator John Chafee as head of the Committee, expressed his support for the Everglades restoration plan, describing the Everglades as a "national treasure." Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt announced opposition to Dade County's plan to convert Homestead Air Force Base to a commercial airport, becoming the first high-ranking administration official to oppose the plan. EPA Administrator Carol Browner also voiced opposition to the plan. Governor Jeb Bush, in a videotaped message, expressed his commitment to Everglades restoration, and pledged to push for legislative approval for funding.
"Taking it to the Streets: Time to Get the Word Out" The Conference emphasized the need for conservationists to reaching out to people around Florida and the across nation to gain support for Everglades restoration. Weeks before the conference, Everglades National Park scientists had issued a stinging report criticizing the Corps restudy plan for focusing too much on supplying water for growing cities and not enough on restoring the Everglades. While acknowledging the validity of questions being raised about the restoration plan by Park scientists and environmental groups, EPA Administrator Carol Browner urged environmentalists to put aside their differences and support the federal plan to restore the Everglades. On the day the Conference opened, Vice President Al Gore announced in Orlando that the Clinton administration would ask Congress for $312 million to restore the Everglades, a one-third increase. Much of the money would be spent for land acquisition. During a speech at the conference, Gov. Jeb Bush assured the Coalition that the Florida Legislature would pass a successor to the Preservation 2000 land acquisition program in 1999.
Featured speakers included Sen. Bob Graham, Robert Stanton (director, National Park Service), Col. Terry Rice, Army Corps (retired), and Patricia J. Beneke, chairwoman of the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Task Force. The Coalition released its "Strategies for Success," which emphasized repairing the Everglades ecosystem as the driving force behind restoration, with water supply and flood control as secondary issues. The plan included: restoring water flow; increasing water storage capacity; restoring water quality, and ensuring multi-species recovery. The Coalition signaled that land purchases to buffer the Everglades from development and provide water storage were key to the restoration initiative, including: acquisition of land authorized by the 1989 Everglades National Park Protection and Expansion Act; protection or acquisition of the 8.5 Square Mile Area; and acquisition of additional land in the Everglades Agricultural Area.
"Everglades Restoration: An Investment in the Future" The Conference convened on a mood of cautious optimism and focused on business and economic issues as well as the typical environmental, scientific and technical aspects of restoration. Lt. Gov. Buddy McKay spoke at the conference's opening breakfast. Kathleen McGinty, chairwoman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, announced that President Clinton stood firmly behind his promise to double federal spending on the Everglades by 2003. McGinty also reported that the White House would require additional environmental studies to consider impacts to Everglades and Biscayne National Parks before transferring Homestead Air Force Base to politically connected developers planning to construct an international airport. Environmentalists expressed guarded praise for the plan, indicating that they would watch the issue closely.
"Everglades Restoration: The Key to a Sustainable South Florida" Prominent speakers included EPA Administrator Carol Browner and U.S. Senator Bob Graham. Rep. Peter Deutsch predicted that the proposed two-cent-per-pound tax on Florida sugar had only a five percent chance of passing that year. The levy, proposed by Deutsch, U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar and U.S. Rep. E. Clay Shaw, would have raised money to buy land in the Everglades Agricultural Area. The proposed tax was not supported by Florida Senators Bob Graham and Connie Mack, who instead suggested a tenth-of-a-cent increase in the federal assessment on loans to sugar growers. Alice Rivlin, director of the Office of Management and Budget, was cheered when she quoted a memo by Vice President Al Gore that reasserted the restoration of the Everglades and Florida Bay as a top administration objective.
Governor Lawton Chiles gave the keynote address, despite having infuriated many environmentalists earlier in the year by pushing through the Everglades Forever Act, a cleanup plan that would hold farmers responsible for no more than $322 million of a cleanup expected to cost at least $700 million. EPA Administrator Carol Browner decried the "cynical manipulation and deliberate confusion of the public" by reformers in the new Republican majority in Congress. The Coalition announced plans to form a nationwide campaign against price supports for the sugar industry. In addition to advocating a replumbing of the water management system the Coalition also endorsed plans to: cut back on the sugar cane fields between Lake Okeechobee and the Everglades; redouble efforts to reduce pollution of Lake Okeechobee, primarily by reducing the flow of waste from dairies north of the Lake; and have Governor Chiles select Water Management District board members committed to Everglades restoration. The latter was in response to the District's acquiescence to a southwest Broward County development.
On the eve of the Conference, Flo-Sun and U.S. Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt signed an agreement that partially settled a five-year legal battle. U.S. Sugar refused to sign the settlement agreement. "South Florida is the single most important test case of whether we can restore an ecosystem," Babbitt said. But he did not announce any further concrete steps the Clinton administration would take against the politically powerful sugar industry, despite earlier promises by his subordinates. Secretary Babbitt addressed more than 200 attendees while farmhands protested outside. Governor Lawton Chiles reassured the farmers that he opposed a recent recommendation from federal scientists to flood up to 200,000 acres of farmland so a flow way could be created to restore Lake Okeechobee's historic connection to the Everglades. He also announced that he would ask the Legislature to change the state's water quality laws as they applied to sugar farmers, possibly easing farmer's cleanup burden. Conservationists planned to watch the Legislative session carefully. The Coalition formally endorsed the "Save Our Everglades" petition drive seeking a statewide vote on a one-cent-per-pound sugar tax, and expressed frustration with an approach focused on treating pollution rather than preventing it.
Optimism was the mood, in reaction to a new administration in Washington and what appeared to be a new commitment in the state capital for fixing the Everglades. Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt proposed assembling an Everglades task force at the Washington level and advocated making polluters responsible for cleanup. Col. "Rock" Salt, the District Engineer heading the Everglades program for the Army Corps or Engineers, asked Babbitt to help the Corps get money from Congress to do the needed work. George Miller, chairman of the House interior committee, also addressed the conference. Incoming chief of the Environmental Protection Agency Carol Browner received an award at the conference. Governor Lawton Chiles and Lt. Gov. Buddy MacKay were also in attendance.
Governor Lawton Chiles and Carol Browner, head of the Florida Department of Environmental Regulation, were featured speakers. The Coalition was focused on mobilizing to persuade Congress to overhaul the entire Everglades water management system and develop an overall Everglades survival plan, rather than concentrate on piecemeal restoration efforts. The coalition released "Everglades in the 21st Century," a plan for recovering, restoring and protecting the biological diversity that was the hallmark of the Everglades. The Coalition's priorities included: development of a comprehensive water distribution plan to provide fresh water to the environment; formation of a staff council backed by regional water managers and Governor Chiles to take the ideas to Congress; purchase of farms south of Lake Okeechobee that would be flooded and returned to sawgrass marsh, and designating farmland an "area of special concern" to make rezoning for development more difficult.
In the first speech since his inauguration, Governor Chiles signaled a radical change from the approach of Governor Bob Martinez's administration, indicating that he considered it a priority to settle the federal government's lawsuit and stop pollution from destroying the Everglades. He called for a summit to end the lawsuit. He instructed the Department of Environmental Regulation to require farmers to comply with tough, enforceable pollution rules for discharging polluted water, and called on the South Florida Water Management District to develop pollution limits and deadlines for their enforcement. Jim Webb reminded attendees that, in addition to the issues raised in the lawsuit, the ongoing problem of water supply to Everglades National Park had become critical since a drought was then in its third year. The Coalition also urged Governor Chiles to replace five of the nine members of the South Florida Water Management District governing board.
Governor Bob Martinez announced his support for a $276 million plan to restore the Kissimmee River, marking the first political commitment to completely restore the river. The primary topic of the meeting was agriculture's effect on the Everglades, including a plea for ending federal support for the sugar industry and insistence that sugar growers pay to clean up polluted runoff from their land. The Coalition also expressed its support for the federal lawsuit against the state and the Water Management District; and pledged to use its influence in Washington to obtain federal funds for the Kissimmee River restoration. The month before the meeting, President George Bush had authorized expansion of the Everglades National Park by 107,600 acres but the land acquisition was not funded and state officials urged that the project be funded.
More than 200 environmentalists, politicians and government officials gathered in 1989 when the Coalition returned to Marco Island. Senator Bob Graham and U.S. Representative Dante Fascell reported that they were writing federal legislation to acquire more than 100,000 acres along the eastern edge of Everglades National Park. Governor Bob Martinez announced his intention to push hard for the legislation. EPA Regional Administrator Greer Tidwell admitted that his agency had not been involved enough in the Everglades and pledged to help the state find a "proper and rapid solution" to Everglades pollution. Peter Berle, president of the National Audubon Society, urged state officials and environmentalists to examine federal subsidies to Florida sugar farmers, an idea rejected by Governor Martinez. Legislators urged environmentalists to stop arguing over pollution problems, referring to U.S. Attorney Dexter Lehtinen's lawsuit against the South Florida Water Management District and the state Department of Environmental Protection. Another major issue at the conference was the occurrence of a highly unusual winter algal bloom in Lake Okeechobee, a result of fertilizer pollution.
Governor Bob Martinez announced to the Coalition that he had formally proposed that the federal and Florida governments acquire about 75,000 acres west of Miami in the East Everglades. The consensus at the conference was that restoration efforts needed to be drastically expanded. The Coalition's agenda called for nearly $90 million in spending for research, increased staffing at Everglades wildlife refuges, and acquisition of land around Everglades National Park.
In his second public appearance as Governor, Bob Martinez assured the Coalition "I want to work with you." U.S. Senator Lawton Chiles and newly-elected U.S. Senator Bob Graham discussed acquisition of additional land for the Big Cypress National Preserve. Although approximately 300 people attended the conference it was Marjory Stoneman Douglas, who at 96 spent an entire day sitting on a steel folding chair in the second row, and stole the show.
More than 100 representatives of national and Florida conservation groups gathered at the conference, which had been conceived by then-Governor Bob Graham and organized by his staff. In a move symptomatic of the political aspects of Everglades restoration, the director of the National Park Service, scheduled to speak at the conference, cancelled abruptly, apparently over concerns that Governor Graham would announce his candidacy for the U.S. Senate (he didn't). Governor Graham's proposal to the Coalition included the purchase of 500,000 acres of land and restoration of natural water flows and wildlife habitat to the Everglades. The Coalition pushed for federal funding to complete Florida's efforts to restore the Kissimmee River. The Coalition, then consisting of 23 conservation groups, was concerned that the Reagan administration was indifferent to the Everglades, in part because the Administration had pushed for a three-year moratorium on federal appropriations for land acquisition.