About Me

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He started his career in the family real estate and hotel business in Florida from which his concern for the environment steered him in public life. He has served six Florida governors and two presidents in many positions, including terms as chairman of the Florida Department of Air and Water Pollution Control, and Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior for Fish, Wildlife and Parks. Beyond his government service, he helped found 1000 Friends of Florida and has served as both president and chairman of the board of the organization. He currently or has served on the boards of the Atlantic Salmon Federation, Natural Resources Defense Council, National Geographic Society, Yellowstone National Park, Everglades Foundation and Hope Rural School.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

In the News...

Posted September 10, 2013 at 11:57 a.m., updated September 10, 2013 at 7:48 p.m.

WEST PALM BEACH — With the deal’s deadline about a month away, Gov. Rick Scott didn’t offer a preference Tuesday on an option to buy sugar land to send more Lake Okeechobee water south into the Everglades, away from the St. Lucie Estuary.

Over a two-week period in August, Scott promised more than $130 million for projects related to the St. Lucie. But Scott and state officials haven’t prioritized the land buy. Scott opposed a U.S. Sugar Corp. land purchase deal as a tea party candidate in the 2010 Republican primary, claiming the deal was crafted to benefit special interests.

The Republican governor addressed the land buy Tuesday at the Palm Beach County Convention Center, his first stop on a statewide tour to brainstorm new tax cuts.
“We work with our Department of Environmental Protection and water management districts to see what land they need to continue to make sure we have the quality of water we want (flowing) through the Everglades,” Scott told reporters Tuesday. “So it will be a decision they focus on.”
Oct. 12 is the expiration date on the South Florida Water Management District’s three-year option to buy up to 153,200 acres of U.S. Sugar Corp. land at a set price of $7,400 an acre, about $1.1 billion. Also under a deal negotiated with U.S. Sugar, the state has the option to buy 46,800 acres, most of it on the south end of the lake between Clewiston and Belle Glade, at the same per-acre price — a total of about $346 million.
After the deadline passes, the district has six years left to buy all or part the land, but at market price.

The district has said there is no active negotiation to buy the land, which local environmentalists argue is the best move to divert Lake Okeechobee releases away from the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries, and into the River of Grass. The problem, the district has said, is lack of money.
Representatives from U.S. Sugar have said the plan for a “flow way” south was deemed not viable multiple times. But at an Aug. 22 Senate hearing on Lake Okeechobee discharges, Bubba Wade Jr. of U.S. Sugar said his company was not opposed to having a panel revisit the flow-way concept.

The other sugar giant, Florida Crystals Corp., was willing to swap lands necessary to create a flow-way in 2008. But a Florida Crystals spokesman said he’s not sure about the swap now, since it hasn’t been brought up to the company.
“Now, I don’t know,” said Gaston Cantens, Florida Crystals vice president of corporate relations. “No one has approached us about it.”

Then-Gov. Charlie Crist announced the sugar land purchase idea in June 2008. The $1.7 billion deal would have bought out U.S. Sugar and its 187,000 acres in the Everglades Agricultural Area. After the economy tanked, the district approved only a 26,800-acre land buy that cost $197.4 million.
Scott tied his 2010 Republican opponent, Bill McCollum, to the scaled-down deal, bashing him for taking huge donations from U.S. Sugar.

For his 2014 re-election try, Scott has since accepted at least $430,000 from U.S. Sugar and affiliates through his political committee, Let’s Get to Work.
“Voting in favor of this sweetheart deal for U.S. Sugar places the interests of one company above those of the 7.5 million people who will end up being taxed to pay for this political favor,” Scott said about the U.S. Sugar deal in August 2010.

“During the course of his campaign, McCollum and his attack groups have directly or indirectly received nearly $1 million from U.S. Sugar. He has cut a secret deal supporting a secret tax. Unfortunately for U.S. Sugar, I can’t be bought.”
After he toured the St. Lucie Lock and Dam on Aug. 22, Scott started promising cash for water projects benefiting the St. Lucie.

He dedicated $40 million for the C-44 project and $90 million to raise 2.5 miles of Tamiami Trail, a Miami-Dade County stretch of highway blocking the flow of water into the Everglades. The C-44 stormwater treatment area and reservoir will use state and federal dollars to clean runoff into the canal that ends up dirtying the St. Lucie. But the project won’t limit the lake discharges into the estuary.
Staff writer Tyler Treadway contributed to this report.

TOXIC WATER: Martin County declares state of emergency for Indian River Lagoon

Stuart also passes resolution to move water south

STUART, Fla. - The paddle boards stand ready at attention.
But no one is coming to Coastal Paddleboarding to use them.
"I'm just mad. I'm sick and tired of talking about this," said Dan Neumann, owner of Coastal Paddleboarding.
Dan Neumann lost almost all of his summer business thanks to the toxic algae in the water. But the rent still has to be paid for his Port Salerno space.
"Every day is worth money to us in some way, whether it's money coming in or money going out.  Right now, it's just money going out," said Neumann.
Stories like this have garnered headlines, but now local governments are trying to get more attention, and resources to the problem.  
Tuesday night, Martin County Commissioners approved a resolution asking the governor to declare a state of emergency for the Indian River Lagoon.
"I think anything we can do to protect our residents and to protect our resources we should do," said Commission Chairwoman Sarah Heard.
Monday night, Stuart city commissioners passed a resolution supporting the restoration of the southerly flow of water from Lake Okeechobee through the Everglades.
"We hope to build a lot of support and momentum and hope this is the first of many to come," said Commissioner Jeff Krauskopf.
For business owners, like Dan Neumann, he's tired of all the talk because a resolution doesn't keep his business afloat.
"Unfortunately on a selfish note, for us there's no quick fix," said Neumann.
The hope is that if the Governor declares an emergency, it could cut through some red tape for potential short and long term fixes for the health of the Indian River Lagoon.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Spirit of Defenders Award for Advocacy

2013 Wildlife Conservation Awards Dinner  

Thursday, September 19, 2013 6:00 PM       
The seventh annual Wildlife Conservation Awards Dinner celebrates and honors individuals with a lasting and exceptional commitment to wildlife conservation in the categories of legacy, public service, science, and citizen advocacy.  We hope you will join our Board of Directors, honorees and guests for a great evening in support of wildlife.

2013 Honorees

Professor John D. Leshy
Defenders of Wildlife Legacy Award
Nick Wiley
Spirit of Defenders Award for Public Service
Dr. David Wilcove
Spirit of Defenders Award for Science
The Honorable Nathaniel Reed
Spirit of Defenders Award for Advocacy

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Stuart New Editorial: Laboring for the lagoon from A to Z

Editorial: Laboring for the lagoon from A to Z

It's been an amazing several weeks for Our Indian River Lagoon; vote for the folks you think are making a difference

By Editorial Board
Sunday, September 1, 2013

This Labor Day weekend, we recognize and celebrate the men and women who build our roads, teach our children, protect our homes and lives, help to feed and clothe us, and all the others who work to keep our community and our country running.
It’s also a fitting time to recognize the many men and women on the Treasure Coast who work tirelessly on protecting and preserving our Indian River Lagoon. The following are a few of those special people we believe are making a difference in ways big and small.
Go to TCPalm.com and vote on your top five picks of those laboring for the lagoon. We’ll report back on the folks you think are making the greatest impact.
Feel free to write in the names of candidates if we missed them.
Or if you prefer to use this page as a ballot, circle your five favorites and return to us at Scripps Newspapers River Advocates, c/o Michael Goforth, P.O. Box 9009, Stuart, Fla. 34994.
LEON ABOOD: A Martin County Realtor, Abood is the longtime chairman of the Rivers Coalition, which was founded in 1998 to support and protect the health of the St. Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon.
RICHARD BAKER: A nationally-recognized conservationist and professor emeritus of the University of Florida, Baker is president of the Pelican Island Audubon Society and has served on the society’s board for more than two decades.
MARTY BAUM: Baum is the Indian Riverkeeper, part of a national alliance of organizations protecting the nation’s waterways. The Indian River is his focus for public education and advocacy.
CHRIS DZADOVSKY: A St. Lucie County commissioner, Dzadovsky has become a leading government voice for protecting the lagoon and has initiated efforts to reduce pollution.
GRANT GILMORE: After 32 years with Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution and Dyamac Corp., at the Kennedy Space Center, Gilmore founded Estuarine, Coastal and Science Inc., in 2004. A scientist, he is internationally recognized for his studies of fish communities and the ecology of Florida waters.
CHARLES GRANDE: A former St. Lucie County commissioner, Grande has been recognized for his governmental work on behalf of the Indian River Lagoon. He is a board member of the Rivers Coalition and president of the Rivers Coalition Defense Fund.
SARAH HEARD: A longtime Martin County commissioner, Heard has been an advocate for the St. Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon. The Martin County Commission created the Speak Up for the St. Lucie project to educate the public and urge support for the river.
KEVIN HENDERSON: The president of Evergreen Engineering, Henderson has been on the board of the St. Lucie River Initiative and the Rivers Coalition for many years. In May, he revealed an analysis that showed more water could be stored south of Lake Okeechobee in existing stormwater treatment areas.
MAGGY HURCHALLA: A former 20-year Martin County commissioner, Hurchalla is nationally recognized as an environmentalist for her work on behalf of the Everglades and Indian River Lagoon and has been instrumental in helping raise awareness of conservation issues in Martin County.
BRIAN LAPOINTE: A research professor at Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute at Florida Atlantic University, Lapointe has been doing extensive study into the sources of pollution of the Indian River Lagoon.
JACQUI THURLOW-LIPPISCH: A Sewall’s Point commissioner and former mayor, Thurlow-Lippisch is a member of the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute Foundation and the South Florida Water Management District’s Water Advisory Committee.
JOE NEGRON: A powerful leader of the Florida Senate, Negron organized the recent Senate select committee hearing to look into state and federal policies that might reduce pollution of the Indian River Lagoon and St. Lucie River.
PETER O’BRYAN: An Indian River county commissioner with a degree in marine science, O’Bryan has crafted a proposal for restoration of the Indian River Lagoon in Indian River County and was instrumental in the county’s adoption of a new fertilizer ordinance.
JOHN ORCUTT: A marine biologist and financial broker, Orcutt has served on the Pelican Island Audubon Society Board and currently serves on the board of the Ocean Research and Conservation Association. He is a founder of the Indian River Lagoon Coalition.
MARK PERRY: Perry is executive director of the Stuart-based Florida Oceanographic Society with which he has been associated for 35 years. He has proposed scientific plans for redirecting water and reducing discharges from Lake Okeechobee.
NAT REED: A Jupiter Island resident, Reed served as assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior under two presidents, is a founder of 1000 Friends of Florida, a member of the statewide Conservation Coalition, and serves as vice chairman of the Everglades Foundation.
JUSTIN RINEY: Founder of Mother Ocean and Expedition Florida 500, Riney, of Vero Beach, is on a year-long paddleboard journey on Florida waters and raising public awareness of the health of the state’s waters, particularly the Indian River Lagoon and St. Lucie Estuary.
KEVIN STINNETTE: A marine science educator, Stinnette served as the first Indian Riverkeeper. He’s presently a member of the Conservation Alliance of St. Lucie County.
KARL WICKSTROM: Wickstrom is the founder and editor of Florida Sportsman Magazine and a leader on the Rivers Coalition Defense Fund. He is a frequent writer on the importance of the health of the Indian River Lagoon.
EDIE WIDDER: A former marine researcher with the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute and recipient of a MacArthur Foundation “genius” award, Widder co-founded the Ocean Research and Conservation Association in Fort Pierce in 2005. ORCA is using collection of scientific data to map pollution in the Indian River Lagoon.
TIM ZORC: An Indian River County commissioner, Zorc has made the lagoon a top priority and is creating a committee of scientists and citizens to draft a plan of action for lagoon restoration and preservation.