Welcome to the latest installment of the Wednesday Wake-Up Call, a roundup of the most pressing conservation issues important to anglers. Working with our friends at Trout Unlimited, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, The Everglades Foundation, Captains for Clean Water, VoteWater.org, and Conservation Hawks (among others), we’ll make sure you’ve got the information you need to understand the issues and form solid opinions.
Anglers, Guides, Outdoor-lovers, and Conservationists Rally to Stop Legislation that Threatens Recent Progress in South Florida
Today’s Wake-Up Call is devoted to the important legislation pending in Florida, which threatens Everglades-restorations efforts by deprioritizing the EAA Reservoir project south of Lake Okeechobee and by changing the way Lake Okeechobee discharges are determined. The bill was introduced late in the process, and there will be a full floor vote in the Florida State Senate tomorrow.
If you haven’t already used the Everglades Foundation Take Action page
to send a letter to legislators, please do so NOW.
The under-construction Everglades Agricultural Area Reservoir, also known as the “EAA Reservoir,” is a vital first step to restoring the flow of clean water south through the Everglades. When completed, the reservoir will accommodate 240,000 acres of dynamic water storage, cleaning and moving an average of 370,000 acre-feet per year of water from Lake Okeechobee to the Everglades and Florida Bay, significantly reducing Lake Okeechobee discharges, which are the cause of the current algae crisis. The increase in fresh water will also help slow saltwater intrusion, which threatens the mangrove forests that are vital habitat for juvenile fish, help stop erosion, and offer important carbon sequestration that will help mitigate climate change.
Our partners at The Everglades Foundation have laid out the issues in simple language:
On February 9th, the Florida Senate Appropriations Committee voted to pass a bad bill Senate Bill 2508 (SB 2508) that threatens to reverse the last several years of progress in Everglades restoration. In jeopardy are: construction of the vital EAA Reservoir and the balanced approach to water management reached through the Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual (LOSOM).
Many of you were with us during the fight to advance the EAA reservoir with Senate Bill 10 in 2017. You know it was a hard-fought battle. Now, SB 2508 seeks to undo that success. The EAA reservoir is the crown jewel of Everglades restoration. We cannot allow it to be jeopardized. There’s too much at stake. The Everglades Foundation will continue to fight to construct the EAA reservoir and reduce harmful discharges from Lake Okeechobee.
For nearly three years, The Everglades Foundation has closely followed the rewriting of LOSOM. Last fall, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced a plan that provided significant balance across the watershed. The plan will reduce harmful discharges by nearly 40% to both coasts and will send significant lake water south to the Everglades and Florida Bay, and will even improve agricultural water supply. This action, by the Florida Senate Appropriations Committee, threatens to upend the balance reached in LOSOM. SB 2508 jeopardizes your water supply and the strides made in the LOSOM process to combat toxic discharges and, instead, this bill protects the sugar industry.
Last week, dozens of fishing guides canceled their charters for the day and headed to Tallahassee to let lawmakers know that they view this bill as an existential threat. Captains for Clean Water created the video below to share some of their testimony and thoughts on what the passage of this bill could mean.