Clean water rally at Fort Myers Beach park Saturday
Just days after former commissioner Ray Judah staged a clean water rally in downtown Fort Myers, another group is playing host to Florida east coast eco-activists and all other interested parties on Fort Myers Beach this weekend for a peaceful educational event.
Floridians For Clean Water are asking Beach residents and visitors to participate in a rally at Crescent Beach Family Park at 110 Estero Blvd. on Saturday, Oct. 19, from noon to 3 p.m. Informative speakers will engage from noon to 2, and the last hour will feature a hands across the sand activity.
Many weeks of high flow regulatory freshwater releases discharged from Lake Okeechobee into the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie rivers are damaging the area’s coastal habitats and water quality to the point where the action may negatively affect not only our ecology but our economy, tourism industry and possibly our health in a devastating way.
“This is an educational platform with influential ecological speakers along with local business people,” said event coordinator John Heim. “This is not a demonstration, but more an educational type gathering in the park.”
Speakers will include Beach Mayor Alan Mandel, Beach Councilwoman Jo List (singing “America the Beautiful”), Indian River Keeper Marty Baum, Conservancy of Southwest Florida Natural Resources Policy Director Jennifer Hecker, Beach Councilman Dan Andre, Palm Beach County Commissioner Chris Tzadosky, Beach Chamber President Bud Nocera and Marine Cleanup Initiative Capt. Don Voss from Florida’s east coast. Other undisclosed speakers will join in.
Sponsored by the Sierra Club, one of the oldest, largest and most influential grassroots environmental organizations in the United States, the event is being organized by Heim, Port St. Lucie environmentalist Katy Lewey and Sierra Club’s Cris Costello.
“Crissy Costello has been very instrumental in helping put this together,” said Heim. “Katy’s group, the Indian River River Warriors, has a whole caravan coming over from the east coast.”
The state-wide effort in the so-called “riverlution” can expect a large contingence of east coast participation.
“I am in awe of them. I thank them for their effort, but I am not surprised by it,” said Heim, who has traveled to the east coast to work with eco-activists there. “They really supported me when I was over there. This is not east coast versus west coast. It’s a Florida thing.”
The rally is for economical reasons as well as ecological sustainability.
“We want to emphasize the following points. When it comes to our local economy, Fort Myers Beach and Sanibel have $4.3 billion in tourism dollars at stake. The most important factor to our residents is there are 85,000 jobs are at stake. We want everyone to come out, be aware of what is at stake and fight for their livelihood.”
Organizers are encouraging all Beach residents and folks from neighboring communities to attend with signs and let their voices be heard.
“This is not a demonstration, this is a celebration,” added Heim. “This is a family event and an educational experience.”