Florida: Earth First! Protest at Barley Barber Swamp heats up

Of all the states in the US, Florida is one of the toughest states to
be an environmental activist in. There are so many right wing
enviro-bashers down there. Even schools scold children for doing
something as innocent as organizing recycling programs. The stories
I’ve heard from my friends who grew up in Florida are appalling. Keep
this in mind when you read what follows –Deane

Indiantown: A group of local Everglades Earth First! activists are
currently engaged in a standoff with FPL, Martin County Sheriff,
Homeland Security and the FBI near Barley Barber Swamp, an old growth
cypress swamp near the Florida Power and Light Martin County Plant.

The on-going vigil outside the Barley Barber Swamp began the morning
of January 5th after multiple requests by the group to be permitted
access to view the swamp. FPL is responsible to preserve the area and
has closed the swamp from public access since 2001. After a
thirty-person rally in front of the Martin County Power Plant, the
group attempted to hike into the swamp, but were stopped by law
enforcement who threatened arrests if activists entered the Barley
Barber Swamp. The standoff went through the night as activists
maintain the public should be able to see the impact FPL is having on
some of the last remaining old growth in the state. One of the trees,
estimated at 1100 years old, is likely the oldest tree in the
southeast United States. Earth First!er Taylor Sanderson stated that
the group’s demands include “that FPL make a New Year’s resolution to
take accountability for damage done to this beautiful swamp by the
adjacent Martin County Power Plant, currently the largest fossil-fuel
plant in the United States. The groundwater is literally being sucked
from under the swamp, and the trees are dying as a result.” The group
has worked with scientists monitoring the hydrology of the affected
area, and has concluded that the plant was closed in 2001 not just for
security reasons as FPL claims, but because the power plant is
obviously destroying an area that the company promised to preserve.
“We want this old growth forest that is home to the oldest bald
cypress tree in Florida to be preserved. FPL is killing the oldest
cypress trees in the state. Their actions must be monitored” Sanderson
continued. The group of activists anticipate several arrests in the
coming days. According to group member Russell McSpadden, “we are
willing to accept arrest if that is what it takes to preserve the
Barley Barber swamp. We intend to fight FPL’s destruction of South
Florida’s wetlands through legal means and when necessary with our
bodies, through protest, civil disobedience, and the judicial system.
We have a right to take matters into our own hands. We won’t tolerate
FPL’s blatant destruction of Florida’s natural resources, including
the desecration of Barley Barber swamp and the construction of the
West County Energy Center which will have an enormous environmental
impact on the Loxahatchee region of the Everglades.” Elected officials
and environmental organizations throughout the state take
contributions from FPL and are turning a blind eye to the communities
and wild lands they are entrusted to protect. We won’t tolerate apathy
on the part of those who are letting this go on.”

— Posted to http://forestpolicyresearch.com via gmail to posterous and
also to forestpolicyresearch@yahoogroups.com

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