Friday, January 9, 2009

Activists Stand-Off with Law Enforcement at Barley Barber Swamp

-----Original Message-----
From: Everglades EF! !!! []
Sent: Tuesday, January 6, 2009 10:32 AM
Subject: Breaking News: Activists Stand-Off with Law Enforcement at Barley Barber Swamp

For Immediate Release

Media Alert: Activists Stand-Off with Law Enforcement at Barley Barber Swamp

January 6, 2009—Indiantown, Florida.

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." Mr. McSpadden added "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," McSpadden continued, "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."

Photos and video from the swamp are available upon request.
On-the-field interviews are available by phone or on site. Call for directions and assistance to reach the vigil site.

We would like to extend an invitation for anyone to come out to the camp for the most up-to-date reports, as the situation could change at any moment. Unfortunately, the encampment is not accessible by car at this moment, however, we can arrange bicycles for a crew to make the approx. four mile trek. Please call 561.308.9452 and we can help make arrangements.


Linked here is some good video footage recently posted anonymously from Barley Barber. FPL and the Martin County Sheriff are trying diligently to keep people out (rumors are out that the SWAT team is waiting for trespassers in the swamp, by the looks of the video they have not been entirely successful.)

The video shows that the boardwalk is not in disrepair (as FPL has claimed), and that this is a incredible, unique old growth ecosystem that needs immediate protection from FPL. this is the only footage available from the swamp that i have found, other than FPL's promo video from almost 20 years back. We also have high quality DVDs available, and i will take them to the protest to pass off the camera people, so they can have on the ground footage to use.

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