Over the years, we've tried to provide you with innumerous reasons to care about Florida's Everglades. Its value as a world-class fishery is historic. We've introduced you to snook fishing near Chokoloskee and to chasing redfish, black drum, sharks, jack crevalle and tarpon near Flamingo and Alligator Alley. But the worth of the Everglades extends well beyond that of its fishery, it is the one of the most beautiful and biologically diverse ecosystems found anywhere on the planet, is the cornerstone of south Florida's economy, and is a source of drinking water for 8 million people.
Unfortunately, as many are just becoming aware — thanks to recent media coverage of extensive algal blooms along Florida's coasts — the Everglades has long faced serious ecological challenges as a result of water management practices that have placed the irrigation needs of the sugar industry ahead of all other concerns, treating the Everglades' estuaries as sewers, leading to extensive die-offs of sea grass, repeated algal blooms and dramatic reductions of populations of some of Florida's most prominent game fish.
Thankfully, these problems have well understood solutions, the key to success is getting the state of Florida to finally listen to demands — many of which have been echoing for decades —that action be taken to implement these solutions.
In the light of recent media attention, grassroots organization bullsugar.org has launched the “Now or Neverglades Declaration”, as an effort to collect signatures of concerned citizens from around the world to put pressure on Florida politicians to stop ignoring the issue and act.
Orvis, one of the leading brands in the fly fishing industry, is hoping to help lead the charge in signing the declaration. Orvis CEO Perk Perkins quipped, “Why now? The Everglades problem has been there for decades. One thing I have learned in my 40 years of conservation is that timing is crucial and when the time is right, go as hard and fast as you can to get it over the finish line. On the Everglades there is an alignment of stars over the next nine months and now is the time to apply your resources. Recent unusual weather patterns have dramatized the issue. Media is picking up a tail wind in our favor. The elections have politicians listening. The money is there. The right players have seats at the table. 'Now or Neverglades' — this is the time to be heard and support. That is why Orvis has put Now or Neverglades at the top of our list."
In just a few days, the declaration is nearing 10,000 signatures, with no doubt many more to come. To add your voice, or your organization's voice, to the list, visit GladesDeclaration.org.