October 21, 2011
Serving as a microcosm for what’s happening to the entire planet, this film tells the story of a dedicated group of activists striving to fend off the destruction of a 700-acre forest to make way for a biotech park. The first round of permits were issured to make way for Scripps’ biotech research park, and for construction of surrounding housing and retail development in the watershed of the Northeast Everglades bioregion. On Valentine’s Day, 2011, member of Everglades Earth First! began what became a six-week tree sit with a huge banner visible, “DEFEND THIS FOREST”. The banner, visible to thousands of commuters daily along I-95, became the symbol of a resistance that would inspire a new era in environmental action in the state of Florida.
To learn a more in depth account of scripps, watch this
brief video from Everglades Earth First!
September 16, 2011
Last Wednesday, September 7th, the trespassing charges against Russell McSpadden and Rachel Kijewski were dropped. Rachel and Russell were served with court papers back in May for starting the tree sit in the Briger Forest. The state failed to find sufficient evidence to charge the two defendants, so the case was nolle prossed.
Ana Rodriguez and Panagioti Tsolkas, are the final two with pending trespass charges, which at this point with four out of six cases dropped, looks hopeful for them. Both Ana, Russell and Rachel were offered initial pleas of pre-trial intervention consisting of a psych evaluation with mandatory taking of any medication prescribed, 3 months restraining order of the property, 3 months without any arrests, court costs plus attorney fees, 40 hrs, of community service for Rachel and 10 days jail time and 6 months probation for Russell.
The city of Palm Beach Gardens should stop trying to silence the activists against this project and revisit the concerns raised in each permit that has been approved for the project. To get a critical analysis of the Environmental Resource Permit approved by South Florida Water Management visit this link. To access concerns raised to the Army Corps of Engineers regarding the Biological Opinion released by Fish and Wildlife Services to approve their 404 Clean Water Act Permit, click here.
June 19, 2011
JUPITER — A Scripps Florida cancer researcher has been barred from receiving federal research grants for three years because, investigators say, he published bogus data in scientific journals before he joined Scripps.
Philippe Bois, 40, an assistant professor in the department of cancer biology at Scripps Florida, “knowingly and intentionally falsified data” that appeared in articles in 2005 in The Journal of Cell Biology and Molecular and Cellular Biology, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Research Integrity said last week .
“In publishing incomplete and inaccurate articles, Respondent Bois committed serious scientific misconduct,” Administrative Law Judge Carolyn Cozad Hughes wrote in a May decision.
A finding of research misconduct can lead to disciplinary action by a scientist’s employer and suspension of federal grants, NIH said. Scripps wouldn’t say whether any action has been taken against Bois.
Source: Palm Beach Post, read full article here
Two others prepare for trial
By Everglades Earth First!, originally from the Earth First! Newswire
Palm Beach Gardens, Florida— Four activists with Everglades Earth First! (EEF!) attended a court hearing May 18, 2011, related to the treesits in an ongoing campaign to stop the expansion of Scripps Biotech facilities into the Briger forest.
Two of the four, Brandon Block and Courtney Claar, have had their charges dropped.
The others, Russell McSpadden, a current editor with the Earth First! Journal, and Rachel Kijewski, a climb trainer with Everglades Earth First!, were offered a plea deal barring them from the property and requiring psychiatric evaluations. They are preparing for trial. According to the affidavits from their arrest, a Joint Terrorism Task Force agent is involved in the case.
Despite these legal obstacles, the campaign to stop Scripps Biotech from expanding continues on several fronts. And these activists continue to be on the front lines. For example, on May 1, 2011, Kijewski authored a response to the Biological Opinion by US Fish & Wildlife Service regarding the protection of federally protected species in the forest.
The group is inviting support in the form of donations for their legal battles ahead.
To read more background stories from the fight to stop Scripps and save Briger forest, click here
[If you value these stories from the front lines of ecological resistance, help keep us around by subscribing or donating to the Earth First! Journal.]
April 29, 2011
April First Marks One Year Anniversary of Foolish Decision by Palm Beach Gardens Council to Approve Paving Briger Forest for Scripps’ Biotech City.
April 2, 2011
Palm Beach Gardens, FL—Forest protection protests continue to take to the trees. This time at Palm Beach Gardens City Hall (10500 N Military Trail).
On April Fools Day last year, 2010, Palm Beach Gardens City Council voted in favor of the needed changes to their Comprehensive Plan to accommodate the Scripps Biotech Phase II plan, lead by Mayor David Levy.
Today, advocates for Briger forest and opponents of Scripps Biotech commemorate the bad vote with a new tree sit protest calling attention to their proposal for the development plan to be revisited and the decision reversed. They say cutting endangered species habitat with $579 million dollars of public money is “No Joke.”
The new tree-top protest comes a week after Palm Beach Gardens Police arrested two tree sitters. The Police were also responsible for cutting multiple large native pine trees down in two areas of Briger forest—one of these being an area listed as a “preserve” in the Development of Regional Impact (DRI) permit, the other being in land owned by Palm Beach County taxpayers. Several members of the group have filed public records requests for details on the reason for tree-cutting.
The activists have found that, according to Treasure Coast Regional Planning Committee staff, cutting trees in the designated preserve area constitutes a violation of the conditions of the DRI approval, which requires a “Preserve Management Plan” that will “enhance and restore” habitat.
While the fight to protect Briger has not yet gained the momentum that resulted in Scripps being forced off Mecca Farms 5 years ago, it is picking up steam in that direction. The Palm Beach County Environmental Coalition, the Executive Committee of the Loxahatchee Sierra Club and the Conservation Chair of Audubon Society of the Everglades have all taken a position against the plan to clear Briger forest.
These groups join Everglades Earth First! in opposing the current Briger plan and calling for an alternate plan which preserves and enhances the habitat quality, the recreational value and the educational opportunities that the forest provides.
Background on Briger forest
In 1990, Palm Beach County’s Environmental Resource Management (ERM) selected the Briger forest as a candidate for preservation through a bond to purchase land for protection. At that time it was called Indian Creek Flatwoods eco-site #23. While it was not selected in the final purchases, is was already recognized to be valued as endangered species habitat by ERM, over 20 years ago.
Florida lawmakers have invested $1.5 billion in Scripps, nearby Max Planck Florida, and six other biotech research centers that officials say have created 1,100 jobs.
“If it’s only 1,100 jobs, it doesn’t seem like it panned out too well,” Senator Gwen Margolis, D-North Miami Beach… Adding that’s more than $1 million per-job. The state’s last payments to Scripps — totaling $50 million — are scheduled to occur over the next two years.
Read “Lawmakers tell Scripps to show them jobs that justify state’s investment in its biotech research”, PB Post, Posted: 3:43 p.m. Friday, March 11, 2011
Here in Palm Beach County, we aren’t the only ones facing the biotech scam. In a Miami Herald story on a heavily subsidized biotech plan at University of Miami, posted online Tuesday, March, 22, 2011. Residents are questioning the benefits of the project to the local communities of Miami:
“[T]he biotech industry is not the economic savior it’s often made out to be, cautions Portland-based economist Joseph Cortright, who co-authored a widely-read 2002 Brookings Institution report on biotechnology and its job-creation prospects.
“It doesn’t employ huge numbers of people, even in those places that are arguably the biotech hubs,” Cortright said. “Everybody wants to have it because it sounds good, it sounds glitzy.”
March 23, 2011
After arresting two tree sitters along Donald Ross Road, Palm Beach Gardens Police admitted to cutting multiple trees in the Briger forest, including trees in areas designated as a “preserve” in development permit, as well as an area of public land, owned by the residents of Palm Beach County.
The arrests have resulted in news stories across the country, and an upsurge of public support. We lament the loss of these trees—among the last remaining mature native Slash Pine in all of south Florida’s eastern corridor—and we commit to making this the rallying call to end the Scripps Biotech plan before any more endangered species habitat is lost to the forces of corruption and greed.
Monday, March 14th, 2011, marks one month of occupying the canopy of Briger forest in opposition to the Scripps Phase II expansion plans. JOIN US! We will be meeting to rally at the corner of Donald Ross and Parkside, 4pm-6pm, across from FAU and Abacoa.
Please being signs and banners, drums and noise-makers, friends and families. We will also be collecting donations of non-perishable food and financial support to continue sustaining the tree sit.
[Click here for details on donating]
For more background on the campaign, check out the new FAQ section of this website.