Everglades Coalition Conference Celebrates Momentum
Scientists, educators, contractors, conservationists, the media, students, and concerned citizens, as well as decision-makers and representatives from federal, state, local, and tribal governments, convened the last weekend in January for a singular goal: to continue the work to restore America’s Everglades.
The theme of this year’s Everglades Coalition Conference in Coral Springs was “A Watershed Moment,” reflecting on the historic amount of progress, support, and funding that has been spent and allocated to Everglades restoration projects.
Environmental Policy Director Matt DePaolis gives remarks at the dinner co-sponsored by SCCF and the Conservancy of Southwest Florida.
SCCF partnered with the Conservancy of Southwest Florida to sponsor the dinner Friday night for the 38th annual conference. In welcoming remarks at the dinner, Environmental Policy Director Matt DePaolis highlighted SCCF’s commitment to the Everglades and the importance of continuing restoration efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, emphasizing how the resilience of Sanibel and Captiva was connected to the theme of the conference.
“The Everglades is central to this resilience. Even now, we are dealing with added stressors of water releases from Lake Okeechobee,” said DePaolis. “With every step of Everglades restoration, we are closer to being able to send that water south, reinvigorating one of the most unique ecosystems in the world instead of adding undue pressures to our already struggling estuaries.”
DePaolis was followed by the dinner’s keynote speaker — Florida Chief Resilience Officer Wes Brooks, who is tasked with the adaptation and mitigation of flood risks to communities in Florida. He reflected on his time growing up in Miami, fishing in the waters of Florida Bay.
“It was good to hear Dr. Brooks reiterate the Governor’s commitment to improving Florida’s water quality and that the Everglades is central to any progress we hope to make,” said DePaolis.
Panels provided updates on a host of topics concerning Everglades restoration, including updates on Florida panther and Tree Island research and legal analyses of recent Supreme Court decisions and how they could affect restoration efforts. Planning sessions focused on how to strengthen partnerships and continue the momentum that has been built.
Environmental Policy Director Matt DePaolis talked Everglades restoration with South Florida Water Management District Governing Board Member Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch and the City of Sanibel’s Director of Natural Resources Holly Milbrandt.