December 13, 2008

RALLY NOW TO SUPPORT U.S. SUGAR PURCHASE

Dear PURRE Members:

Next week, the South Florida Water Management District will continue its review of the U.S. Sugar purchase and is scheduled to vote on whether to approve the deal. This deal must be approved. 

Recently, Michael Sole, Secretary of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection said “this acquisition represents one of the more important opportunities to protect the Everglades ecosystem in recent years.” We agree with Secretary Sole that this is the single greatest opportunity to restore the Everglades and improve the water quality in the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie Rivers Estuaries.  

The meeting takes place on Monday and Tuesday, December 15 and 16.  We all need to tell the Governing Board, collectively and individually, to say "Yes." While there are concerns over some of the lease terms, we believe they should approve the deal now.

There are many people and “special interest” organizations being rallied to oppose this decision.

There have been reports all week about groups in south Florida who both support and oppose the deal.  We need a loud voice for support.  The Governing Board needs to hear from you with a strong message to vote YES to approve the purchase.  If voted down we could lose one of the greatest opportunities in the battle to improve water quality.  

WE NEED TO RALLY NOW !!

Below are my comments to each board member and a suggested letter.  Make sure you send written comments to the special riverofgrass@sfwmd.gov e-mail as well, so it will get entered into the official public record.  Below are the Governing Board members' individual e-mail addresses.   

PURRE CHAIRMAN'S STATEMENT:

Dear SFWMD Governing Board:

I am writing as Chairman of the PURRE Water Coalition (People United to Restore our Rivers and Estuaries). Located in Southwest Florida, our mission is to promote programs and policies that will improve water quality in South Florida. Over the last three years, more than 2,000 of our residents have joined our cause.

The decision before you this week, the approval of the purchase agreement with the U.S. Sugar Corporation, represents the greatest opportunity in our history for Everglades restoration.  Although it is comprehensive and presents some challenges in our future, it is imperative we say “YES” to the purchase of U.S. Sugar farmlands and move forward.

In June Gov. Charlie Crist recognized this as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to revive the River of Grass and complete the reconnection between Lake Okeechobee and the Everglades. This transaction will provide the greatest opportunity we have to store and treat water that will benefit America’s Everglades, Lake Okeechobee and the Caloosahatchee River and St. Lucie River estuaries. We have supported this position since the forming of PURRE and ask you today to say “Yes” and truly restore the greater Everglades Ecosystem.

Thank you,

Michael J. Valiquette, Chairman

PURRE Water Coalition 

SUGGESTED LETTER

(Please change to your own words):

Dear Mr. Chairman and Governing Board Members:

(send a copy to each board member)

On Tuesday, you are scheduled to vote to acquire a vast amount of acreage in the Everglades Agricultural Area.  This acquisition will significantly improve our chances of restoring the Everglades to its original condition while improving the water quality of Lake Okeechobee, and of the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie Rivers’ estuaries as well. Although we recognize that the proposal before you has challenges, the time for action is now, and the question you face is whether or not to buy land in an area that is critical for Everglades restoration. If the purchase of this land is not approved, there is no assurance we will ever regain this opportunity. We respectfully ask you to support the purchase of this land without additional delay. Thank you for all your hard work. 

Sincerely, 

_____________________________________ 

Send your email letter to SFWMD GOVERNING BOARD:

 

Eric Buermann; Chairman Email: ebuermann@sfwmd.gov

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Shannon A. Estenoz  Email: sestenoz@sfwmd.gov

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Michael Collins Email: mcollins@sfwmd.gov

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Charles J. Dauray Email: cdauray@sfwmd.gov

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Paul C. Huck, Jr. Email: phuck@sfwmd.gov

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Melissa L. Meeker Email: mmeeker@sfwmd.gov

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Jerry Montgomery Email: jmontgom@sfwmd.gov

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Patrick J. Rooney, Jr., Esq. Email: prooney@sfwmd.gov

     IMPORTANT--For the public record:  riverofgrass@sfwmd.gov

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