Palm Beach Gardens, FL-Early this morning Everglades Earth First! activists hung a banner over I-95 reading “Save Briger Forest Now!” to demand that the Briger forest be saved in honor of Judi Bari Day.
Exactly 24 years Ago, Judi Bari, Earth First! Activist famous for defending the California Redwoods was bombed in her car while on tour promoting Redwood Summer, which called for people to occupy the woods to save them from being logged.
“For it is the working people who have their hands on the machinery. And only by stopping the machinery of destruction can we ever hope to stop this madness.” Judi Bari
Today, those in south Florida are faced with a similar threat, but it’s not for logging, its for the profit of development. In Florida, Pine flatwoods are practically a threatened ecosystem. The reason being it is much easier to develop than swamp, being naturally higher in elevation and dryer. Since 2009 the Briger Forest has been the top choice for Scripps Phase II Expansion. 682 acres which is predominately pine flatwoods is slated to be destroyed only to be replaced with a biotech city; where middle and upper class residents could work, live and eat all within it’s confines.
Everglades Earth First! and the Palm Beach County Environmental Coalition are calling on people to attend the Palm Beach Gardens City Hall meeting June 5th at 7pm to voice their opposition to the destruction of the Briger Forest as they will be deciding on the first phase then.
Since Kolter bought the property under the name Cotleur & Hearing, Inc. in December the project has had a lot of traction and push back. On April 10th South Florida Water Management District released its draft permits approving the project, but Rachel Kijewski and Panagioti Tsolkas from the Palm Beach County Environmental Coalition challenged the permit requesting an Administrative hearing. 4 days ago SFWMD updated their permit to reflect the need for a hazardous waste plan, but have ignored their other concerns regarding cumulative impacts, violating the Endangered Species Act regarding the Eastern Indigo snake, not providing sufficient evidence that it is in fact in compliance with the Florida Coastal Management Plan and more.
Everglades Earth First! is the same group that blockaded the construction of the West County Energy Center in 2008, now the 2nd dirtiest CO2 power plant in the state, and has done direct actions since then to highlight the major threats to the Everglades ecosystem. In 2009 EEF!ers occupied the Barley Barber Swamp to highlight the killing of an old growth Bald Cypress swamp surrounded by Martin Power Plant’s many mile cooling Pond. In 2011, many EEF! protesters lived in the Briger Forest, and some sat in trees along I-95 to gain public awareness about the destruction posed for Briger. In 2012 during the Republican National Convention, EEF!ers blockaded the entrance to the TECO coal fire power plant the dirtiest power plant in the state according to a report called America’s Dirtiest Power Plants released in September 2013 (ranking adjusted due to Crystal River plant being offline). Now two EEF!ers await trial for blockading the entrance to the headquarters of Florida Power and Light, who is poised to build one of the largest fossil fuel power plant in the country right next to the Seminole Big Cypress reservation.
“We are the ones who have to deal with the consequences of corporate greed, non-profit compromise and government misconduct. If those of us that live here don’t take eco-defense into our own hands, there won’t be anything left and when there is nothing left to defend there will be no way that people can survive here. Judi Bari knew that 30 years ago when she knew how vital the redwoods were to her survival and because of her, I know that now as well.” Rachel Kijewski
Everglades Earth First! is not the only group in opposition to the project, the Palm Beach County Environmental Coalition, the Loxahatchee Sierra Club, Palm Beach Green Party and South Florida Wildlands have also been working to fight it through litigation and public awareness campaigns.
firstname.lastname@example.org for further information or to get involved.