Florida: Earth First! & others intend to defend Barley Barber Swamp

INDIANTOWN — A Palm Beach County environmental group is having two
weeks of workshops and actions alleging the Florida Power & Light Co.
is discharging materials that are killing old growth cypress trees in
the Barley Barber Swamp in western Martin County. Sydney Bacchus, a
hydro- ecologist, will kick off the campaign by Everglades Earth First
with a speech entitled “What is FPL hiding in Barley Barber Swamp?” in
Indiantown on Tuesday. “Dr. Bacchus, myself and others in the
environmental movement are concerned that discharges from the (FPL
Martin Plant) are harming the old growth cypress trees in the swamp,”
said Panagioti Tsolkas, a spokesman for Everglades Earth First. But an
FPL spokeswoman said the trees are not being harmed.

“We’re committed
to operating all of our facilities in harmony with the environment,”
spokeswoman Jackie Anderson said. “A great example is our Martin plant
where Barley Barber is considered one of the finest remaining cypress
swamps in Florida. This unique ecosystem continues to thrive just as
it has since we preserved it more than 30 years ago.” The power plant,
one of the largest fossil-fueled power plants in the U.S., is located
off Beeline Highway about five miles northwest of Indiantown. Bacchus,
who has a doctorate in hydro science, provided testimony in hearings
concerning FPL’s West County Energy Center in Palm Beach County.

She,  along with members of Everglades Earth First and the Palm Beach County
Environmental Coalition, claim both the power plant under construction
in Palm Beach County and the Martin County plant are destructive to
the environment, Tsolkas said. Tsolkas said FPL put the swamp off
limits to the public in 2001. “This swamp is a wildlife area,” Tsolkas
said. “It’s in the public interest to see that FPL is maintaining it
properly.” Anderson said the swamp was closed because of security
concerns after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. “Earlier this
year,” said Anderson, “we started the process of reopening the swamp
and will be working with local and state officials to devise an
appropriate plan to do so that takes into account the need to provide
for public safety and enjoyment such as rebuilt walkways and
availability of tours.”

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