The Everglades Foundation kicked off its "Road to Restoration" campaign with a 3-day tour of South Florida.
On the "Road to Restoration", we met with anglers, business owners, realtors, fishing guides, scientists, chambers of commerce, healthcare officials, and environmental organizations from South Florida's coastal communities.
During our 3-day tour, we visited estuaries impacted by Everglades restoration. We held community roundtables to learn about the issues facing each area, we were updated on Lake Okeechobee conditions and restoration projects, surveyed the waterways, and rallied behind funding for the EAA Reservoir.
The Everglades Foundation kicked off the roundtable series on Monday, July 24, in Islamorada in Florida Bay Forever's headquarters. We visited with Everglades allies representing the Islamorada Chamber of Commerce, Florida Keys Fishing Guides Association, Doctor’s Hospital, and other community leaders.
From Islamorada, we traveled up to Stuart on Tuesday, July 25, to meet at Florida Oceanographic Society for a roundtable discussion on conditions in Martin County and the St. Lucie Estuary.
The event marked the 10th anniversary of the "Lost Summer" of 2013, when toxic algae-fueled water was released from Lake Okeechobee into the St. Lucie River causing fish kills, disrupting the tourism industry, and damaging the livelihoods of coastal residents.
We were joined by the Florida Marine Industry Association, River Kidz, local realtors, and other partners as we reaffirmed our support for the EAA Reservoir and sending clean water south to the Everglades and Florida Bay. We discussed next steps in the funding and construction of the Reservoir and the importance of the new Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual (LOSOM) in sending water south.
Arriving in Fort Myers on Wednesday, July 26, after travelling along the northern side of Lake Okeechobee, we held our third roundtable with allies and partners from Captains for Clean Water, Sanibel Captiva Chamber of Commerce, Florida Hotel and Restaurant Association, Lee Health, Florida Gulf Coast University, Southwest Florida realtors and local elected officials.
Wesneday's discussion addressed Hurricane Ian recovery, localized algae outbreaks, and Lake Okeechobee’s current water level of 15 feet. The dialogue was both passionate and strategic, with unanimous support for rallying local communities to support completing Everglades projects by 2030.
The “Road to Restoration” will continue over the next 18 months as we re-engage communities, industries, individuals, and Everglades allies on the importance of Everglades restoration and clean water to Florida’s economy.
Check out the local news coverage of our "Road to Restoration" and stay up to date at: https://www.evergladesfoundation.org/send-it-south