SCCF Attends Everglades Conference
Environmental Policy Director Matt DePaolis (L) and Policy & Advocacy Associate Allie Pecenka (R)
On Jan. 25-27, SCCF policy staff attended the 39th annual Everglades Coalition Conference in Bonita Springs. The conference provides people working to restore America’s Everglades an opportunity to celebrate the progress made in the past year, while connect over the work still being done. This year’s theme was ‘Restoration Rewards,’ highlighting the benefits Everglades restoration has on ecosystems, economies, and communities across South Florida.
CEO James Evans spoke on the conference’s first panel on Jan. 26 to discuss our new water quality economic report — released in conjunction with Captains for Clean Water and the Conservancy of Southwest Florida — and how clean water through Everglades restoration projects and other measures are essential to our way of life.
The panel, “Clean H2O: A Formula for Ecological Health and Economic Success,” also included speakers Chloe Vorseth, PhD student at Florida International University, John Lai, president and CEO of the Sanibel & Captiva Islands Chamber of Commerce., Captain Daniel Andrews, executive director of Captains for Clean Water, and Gretchen Greene, principal economist at Greene Economics (which conducted the water quality study).
Moderated by Michele Arquette-Palermo, water policy manager at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, the panel explored how the economies of coastal communities are inextricably linked to their water quality, using the economic report as a backdrop.
“It’s not just the low taxes that draw people to Florida — it’s the water. The water can draw people to Florida, and it can also drive people away,” Evans said during the panel. “If we’re not thinking about our impact on water quality and what we can do to improve water quality, then we’re not thinking about the future of Florida.”
SCCF also sponsored the conference breakfast on Jan. 27 in partnership with the Florida Oceanographic Society, during which Evans and Mark Perry, executive director and CEO of Florida Oceanographic, spoke of the importance of robust collaboration between all of the northern estuaries. Both speakers highlighted the need for a united front when addressing water quality concerns and how, by working together, we can provide solutions that will benefit both coasts.
The conference’s keynote speakers included Shannon Estenoz, assistant secretary for fish, wildlife, and parks for the U.S. Department of the Interior, and Shawn Hamilton, secretary for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.
SCCF was thrilled to connect with conservation partners and decisionmakers from across the U.S. and beyond at this event in support of our shared vision to benefit our water quality, ecosystems, communities, and economies through the restoration of America’s Everglades.