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Annual Everglades Coalition Conference coming up

By Staff | Jan 3, 2020

The annual Everglades Coalition Conference, which will be held on Captiva this year, is packed with countless experts that will share information regarding the progress on restoring the Everglades.

The 35th annual Everglades Coalition Conference will be held on Jan. 9-11 at the South Seas Island Resort. The forum attracts scientists, educators, contractors, conservationists, students, Florida residents, decision-makers and representatives from federal, state, local and tribal governments.

Conservancy of Southwest Florida Environmental Policy Manager and Everglades Coalition Co-Chair Marisa Carrozzo said the Everglades Coalition has been around for more than 35 years. The coalition was founded to provide an alliance of organizations to push for Everglades restoration, a group moving forward with an agenda that they could all get behind to restore the Everglades ecosystem.

“The annual conference is the largest forum on discussion of progress for the Everglades every year,” she said.

The first conference was held in 1986 at the Port of the Islands on Marco Island.

“They gathered together on the recommendation of then Gov. Bob Graham because of the need for a more cohesive approach to spearheading advocacy for the Everglades restoration,” Carrozzo said. “I think even back then federal funding and state funding was also a big need. Funding has been a long standing talking point and core message from the standpoint of the coalition because without the funding none of these projects would be able to move forward, or be completed.”

The 2020 conference will focus on “America’s Everglades: All Hands on Deck,” due to the coalition, this past year, really focusing on how it could accelerate restoration with consistent funding, all while ensuring Everglades restoration projects remain on track.

“You will be seeing a lot of discussion on how do we achieve the leadership and funding goals for Everglades restoration,” Carrozzo said.

In addition, discussions regarding the progress that has been made so far, such as raising Tamiami Trail, which will benefit the Everglades National Park, as well as moving water south, will be a topic. She said climate resiliency is another topic, in regards to ensuring how to have a sustainable water supply for more than eight million Floridians.

The three-day event will kick off on Jan. 9 at 3 p.m. with “Everglades 101: History and Restoration.” Carrozzo said it is open to the public and free to attend for those who would like to drop in for about an hour and a half to learn about the status and history of the Everglades Restoration. Registration is required to attend.

At 6 p.m., a Welcome Reception will be hosted by the city of Sanibel.

The following two days – Jan. 10-11 – will feature a variety of speakers and moderators, including Rae Ann Wessel of the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation, Dr. Jim Metzler of the “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society-Friends of the Refuge, Celeste De Palma, Doug Gaston and Laura Aguirre of Audubon Florida, Mark Perry of the Florida Oceanographic Society, Caroline McLaughlin and Dr. Melissa Abdo of the National Parks Conservation Association and others.

Conferences topics include “Water Quality: From Crisis to Action,” “Lake Okeechobee Management: The Big Water,” “Resilience Through Restoration: Connecting America’s Everglades to Climate Mitigation and Adaption” and more, with breakout sessions scheduled on “Acronym Soup: The ABC’s of Everglades Restoration,” “Clean Water Connection: Everglades Restoration and Marine Health,” “Regenerative Agriculture, Everglades Restoration and Climate Resilience,” “The Road to Everglades Restoration is Not Paved: How Oil, Residential and Toll Road Development Threaten the Western Everglades,” “Seagrass: The Regrowth of Florida’s Natural Infrastructure” and others.

“We have a lot of knowledgeable features with a lot of history and expertise on the Everglades. We hope everyone will walk away with the positive momentum going into this next year to really push for the completion of restoration projects and working together to achieve our shared goal of a restored Everglades eco system,” Carrozzo said.

The conference typically attracts over 300 attendees. Last year, it was held in the Florida Keys and attracted about 375 attendees. As of Dec. 24, single-day and full conference tickets had sold out.

However, people can still register for the Jan. 9 program that is open to the public.

To register, visit www.EvergladesCoalition.org/conference or email info@EvergladesCoalition.org.