Kolter Group Hit with Back-to-Back Home and Office Demonstrations

office demo 2Members of Everglades Earth First! held two protests on Monday calling for the preservation of the Briger Forest and an end to the Alton Homes project that threatens it.

Office demo 1For an hour protesters rallied outside the offices of Kolter Group, the company responsible for destroying hundreds of acres of threatened and endangered species’ habitat to make way for upscale housing and a planned biotech city. Activists screamed chants and yelled through windows and air vents to let Kolter’s employees know that the pressure will not cease until they stop destroying the forest.

photo 2When typical work hours ended, the protesters then paid a visit to the home of Ed Jahn, Senior Vice President of Kolter Urban, LLC. Using loud chants and signs, protesters made it clear to Ed and his neighbors that desecrating bio-diverse wilderness and trashing land that people love is a personal issue.

photo 1During both protests, neighbors and police gathered around the demonstrations. Some neighbors were quite supportive, and were shocked to find out that the company or person they live next to is profiting off of the death of endangered species. Others were not so supportive, and clearly more concerned with maintaining the peace and quiet of their neighborhoods. To them the message was relayed that the only power they have to end these protests is to convince Kolter Group and Ed Jahn to stop destroying the planet, or to move. This is personal, and Everglades Earth First! will not back down until Kolter stops the killing.

As protesters departed, local children asked us if we were coming back tomorrow. "Of course!" yelled the protesters.

As protesters departed, local children asked us if we were coming back tomorrow. “Of course!” yelled the protesters.

“You Mess with Briger You Mess with Me!”—Protesters Return to Kolter Offices

photo-4On Friday, April 10, protesters gathered outside of Kolter Group’s West Palm Beach headquarters to call for the protection of the Briger Forest. The group waved signs, shouted chants, and informed residents about Kolter’s destruction of local wilderness.

Despite public outcry, Kolter Group continues with its plan to level hundreds of acres of South Florida’s Briger Forest, one of the few biodiverse tracts of land in the area, and home to threatened and endangered species.

The fiery protests and public opposition will not stop until Kolter Group cancels their contracts and pulls their bulldozers and excavators out of the forest!

Protesters Bring the Noise to Kolter Offices

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On Wednesday, April 8, local activists gathered outside of Kolter Group’s West Palm Beach offices, using megaphones and signs to spread the message that the Briger Forest won’t be bulldozed without a fight.

Kolter Group is already responsible for hundreds of acres of the Briger Forest being decimated. The destruction is being done to make way for Alton Homes, an upscale neighborhood and the first step in a planned biotech city complete with artificial ponds and animal testing laboratories.

Protests have been occurring outside of Kolter’s offices since January 26, when two activists locked down inside Kolter’s headquarters. After years of petitions, letters, phone calls, and groveling at city commission meetings, local environmentalists were willing to do anything they could to get their voices heard.

Their voices are clearly being noticed now. Kolter has been hiding from protesters, locking the doors, shutting the blinds, even refusing to let deliveries in while protests are active.

If you live in the area, and are opposed to the destruction of wild forest for the gain of a few already rich individuals, please contact Kolter and tell them so. Tell them that you oppose the project, and that you support the protests—protests which will continue, and escalate, until Kolter stops the destruction of the Briger.

Earth First! Activists Storm Kolter Group Headquarters and Lockdown

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West Palm Beach, FL—Two activists with Everglades Earth First! have just locked their necks together with bicycle u-locks inside the 701 S. Olive Avenue offices of Kolter Group’s “Kolter Urban” division after more than twenty people stormed the building with signs, banners, air-horns and other noisemakers, demanding that the permits for Kolter’s development of the Briger Forest be revoked.

The group opposes Kolter’s plans to build 360 houses and townhomes in the Briger Forest, a 681-acre tract of land that runs along Donald Ross Blvd. and I-95. The protestors claim that the developers are working off deeply flawed permits and have cleared a massive access road which was never approved by South Florida Water Management District. They are also concerned about the recent relocation of the area’s gopher tortoises and the destruction of the tortoise’s burrows, which provide habitat for several other species, including the endangered Eastern indigo snake.

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Commentary: Scripps on Briger Another Environmental Boondoggle

by Panagioti Tsolkas

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The Palm Beach Post Editorial Board got a few things right in the Dec. 14 editorial about Scripps and Briger: 1. It’s one of the few remnants of pine flatwoods and scrub left along the interstate …” 2. Yes, the risk of “[l]osing it has a group of environmentalists from Everglades Earth First! understandably upset.” 3. Indeed, we’ve “been documenting the tree-felling and road-building with grief and outrage.”

It would have been helpful if The Post went as far as telling its readers what we’ve been finding. First off, the number of gopher tortoises noted in the initial permits for the site was 12. Now that clearing land has begun on Briger, and the developers know that Everglades Earth First! and the Palm Beach County Environmental Coalition have been collecting data (and using motion-detecting cameras which, I might add, are much more reliable for detecting wildlife than supposed “snake-sniffing dogs”), they have admitted to the presence of 75 tortoises in the area where the current work is anticipated to have an impact.

This new information places the actual number of burrows in Briger at likely over a hundred, with each one providing habitat for literally hundreds of other species — including some of Florida’s most endangered critters. It’s also worth noting that gopher tortoises are on the brink of being uplisted from “Threatened” status to “Endangered,” for the exact reason of developments like this.

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PROTEST AT SCRIPPS LABS HIGHLIGHTS ANIMAL TESTING, FOREST DESTRUCTION AND AETA

 

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PALM BEACH GARDENS, FL—The Scripps Research Institute, a biomedical company based in La Jolla, CA, with joint operations in Jupiter, FL, was the target of a protest on Saturday, September 6, at 10:00 AM. Everglades Earth First!, a local environmental group, protested the company’s plan to expand their Jupiter campus into the Briger Forest—a 681-acre area in Palm Beach Gardens that is one of the last remaining unprotected forests of its size in the southern region of the state. The protest also called for opposition to the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA), a law that labels animal rights and environmental activists as terrorists.

Everglades Earth First! and the Palm Beach County Environmental Coalition have been fighting to protect the Briger Forest since 2009, and their campaign against Scripps has included legal challenges at the state, county and federal levels; hundreds of signatures in support of protecting the forest; speaking events all over the state; countless rallies; and three treesits in the Briger itself. The group is concerned about the lack of adequate conservation plans for the threatened gopher tortoise and the endangered Eastern indigo snakes in the area, as well as the 11 other state and federally listed animal and plant species for whom the Briger Forest is suitable habitat.

John Waters, an atmospheric scientist and research ecologist who has been tracking global climate change since the 1970s, believes the expansion will have severe impacts on the climate: “Ecosystem destruction of any kind anywhere is and always has been a climate issue. Destruction of the Briger Forest for yet more corporate commercial development in Florida serves no purpose whatsoever other than to make a relative handful of the very rich even richer. There is no sensible reason for anybody else in Florida to stand for it.”

Saturday’s protest was also a part of the National Weekend of Action Against the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, three days of protests and events educating the public about the AETA and its implications on first amendment rights and the politically-motivated targeting of animal rights and environmental activists by corporations and law enforcement. Scripps’ plans for expansion include the construction of more animal testing laboratories, meaning that any opposition to the plan could fall under the label of terrorism under the AETA. Everglades Earth First! held the protest during this weekend to express their opposition to the law, and to demonstrate solidarity with Tyler Lang and Kevin Olliff, two activists currently being charged under the AETA for allegedly freeing animals from fur farms in Illinois. Because the AETA could label them as “terrorists,” the two activists could serve up to 10 years in prison if convicted.