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Island Realtors continue to focus on water quality efforts

March 28, 2018
By DAVID SCHULDENFREI , Island Reporter, Captiva Current, Sanibel-Captiva Islander

Organized by the Everglades Coalition, the 2018 Everglades Coalition Conference took place from Jan. 11-14 in Stuart. The conference is an alliance of more than 60 local, state and national conservation and environmental organizations dedicated to the full restoration of the Greater Everglades Ecosystem.

Many Sanibel and Captiva stakeholders and interested citizens attended the event, including myself, Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation Natural Resource Policy Director Rae Ann Wessel and Chief Executive Officer Erick Lindblad, J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge Manager Paul Tritaik and "Ding" Darling Wildlife Society-Friends of the Refuge President Mike Baldwin.

Myself and others have attended over 20 such events through the years, often participating as speakers. The Everglades Coalition is the vehicle for gathering these voices and their scientific knowledge into one place with the common mantra that "dirty polluted water will not and should not be tolerated anywhere in the state."

Event attendees are always encouraged by the focus of the many different organizations that come together and share their insight and scientific expertise on how to fix the problem. The science has been in for years and there has been significant progress in passing legislation that will ultimately solve the causes of much of this pollution and stop the disastrous Lake Okeechobee water releases to the east and west coasts of Florida.

The recent conference also was attended by Florida Sens. Joe Negron and Bill Nelson, former Florida Gov. and U.S. Sen. Bob Graham, and U.S. Rep. and former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist. All are champions of the Everglades and recognize that the future of Florida and its economic health are dependent of the condition of the Everglades and clean water throughout the state. Their voices and support have helped make serious progress toward the common goal of clean water. They have helped implement legislation including Florida SB 10 and several national bills dealing with, not only Everglades restoration, but water quality projects in almost every state.

In Florida, many large and small water-quality bills have been enacted. Some have been completed and others are in various stages of construction, and though these federal and state bills have passed, many need funding. When congressional delegations meet, they hold Appropriation Committee meetings. Here, both Florida residents and out-of-state Florida property-owners hold the key to applying the pressure necessary to get the proper and much-needed funding for these bills.

Please continue to support this important cause. Make your voice heard and ask other property owners to stay involved, not just here, but in their other home states too. Continued concerted efforts are required. Local grass roots efforts have proven to be strong and effective. Please keep it up. Everyone needs to help this effort in any way they can with their time, voice and donations.

The Sanibel & Captiva Islands Association of Realtors will be raising funds for water quality issues at its annual golf outing and auction in May. All proceeds from the auction will benefit the SCCF's water quality efforts. The association believes together, we can reach the "clean water" goal.

David Schuldenfrei is the chair of the Government and Political Affairs Committee for the Sanibel & Captiva Islands Association of Realtors.



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