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

Kolter deliveries 1

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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Tortoise May Be on Fast Track for Endangered Listing

by Chad Gillis / News-Press.com

(Photo: SARAH COWARD/THE NEWS-PRESS)

(Photo: SARAH COWARD/THE NEWS-PRESS)

The scaly but somehow cute gopher tortoise may be on the fast track for the endangered species list.

The gopher tortoise is one of nearly 150 animal and plant species proposed for the next round of Endangered Species Act additions, which is overseen by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

“The biggest threat is habitat fragmentation, and also degradation,” said Chuck Underwood with the FWS office in Jacksonville. “Gopher tortoises like high, dry, sandy areas. Guess where we like to build? That’s part of the problem.”

Twenty-three new species have been added for FWS consideration: a honey-eating bird found on two islands in the Samoa region of the Pacific Ocean, 18 flowering plants in Hawaii and four species of fern, also found in Hawaii.

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Protest Calls Attention to Clearing of the Briger Forest, Despite Police Interference

by Everglades Earth First!

10801517_10152816896280928_3136914036456463746_nOn Friday, December 5, over 50 activists gathered for a rally outside of the Briger Forest in Florida’s Palm Beach Gardens. The group was protesting the Scripps Phase II project, which is currently clearing the 681-acre forest for the construction of a bio-tech city, complete with animal testing labs and shopping malls.

The Briger Forest is a unique mosaic of scrub, flatwoods and wetlands. Florida has more endangered and threatened species than any other continental state, and the habitat found in the Briger Forest is increasingly rare, as so much of Florida’s southeastern corridor has been paved over for development. There are at least 13 species of plants and animals listed for protection likely present in Briger.

Altering the rush hour traffic and neighboring communities to the destruction happening right behind the treeline, Friday’s crowd sang chants, flew flags, swung banners, and displayed signs in solidarity with the wildlife inside. The two-hour protest was completely peaceful, with the exception of one element: the police. Despite the fact that this was a legal gathering of families, students, activists and children engaging in free speech activities, Palm Beach Gardens police—many undercover—surrounded the protest, blocked traffic, followed vehicles, covertly filmed protesters, prohibited participants from accessing public roads, and used loudspeakers to shout their opinions and drown out the chants of the crowd. Continue reading