On Saturday, January 10 of this year, seventeen Earth First! activists were arrested for entering the Barley Barber Swamp to demand the protection of Florida old growth ecosystems. The Barley Barber Swamp is one of the few remaining old growth cypress swamps in the Southeast. Several of the bald cypress trees in Barley Barber are over a thousand years old. They are the oldest in Florida and the entire Southeast region.
(click here to see a short video clip of Barley Barber and the 1,100 year old bald cypress: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pUSjf4sdLNI )
Barley Barber Swamp is being killed by the massive 3750 megaWatt Martin County power plant that hovers over it and the seventeen mile cooling pond that surrounds it.
Following a five day standoff, six activists entered the swamp through a public waterway and chained themselves to trees. Eleven other activists were swept up by the police in a frivolous attempt to quell the protest. Currently, Everglades Earth First! is confronted with the immediate need to raise $18,000 to bail these courageous activists out of Martin County jail.
Direct action is a community effort that goes well beyond the risk of arrest. It requires broad support from those who wish to see grassroots efforts succeed. We hope to go to the jail on Monday with the funds to bail all seventeen activists out. We know times are tough but if everyone pitches in we can ensure that these folks don't sit in jail for the next thirty days. Can you contribute to this effort? Just go to our website at http://www.evergladesearthfirst.org/ and click on the "Donate" paypal link on the left hand side of the page or make out a check to Everglades Earth First and send it to 822 N C Street, Lake Worth, FL 33460
Another form of support that we would like to ask for is that those concerned call FPL and demand that they drop all charges against the Barley Barber 17 and that they reopen the Barley Barber Swamp to scientific and public scrutiny. One number to call for FPL is 305-552-3888. If you have a local FPL office, please call them as well...
Any funding raised beyond bail will go towards the legal battle that we will carry out to fundamentally change the status of Barley Barber and to ensure its protection and public access much like the battles over Fisheating Creek in the 1990's ( http://www.earthjustice.org/about_us/our_stories/a-snake-in-the-kitchen.html )
(Click here to a video on the standoff on the mainstream news: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PNKUxy_zevI )
For Love and Wild Liberty,
Everglades Earth First!
Below is a copy of our most recent press release concerning the standoff and the Barley Barber 17
Media Contact: Russell McSpadden 561-308-9452
[Photos and video available upon request]
Seventeen Arrested at Barley Barber Swamp Stand-Off
Saturday January 10, 2009 – Indiantown Florida
Seventeen Earth First! activists were arrested this afternoon in an effort to re-open Barley Barber swamp for public use and immediate scientific monitoring. Expressing great concern for the impact Florida Power and Light has had on this landmark property, activists engaged in civil disobedience to assert the need for immediate independent scientific monitoring of the oldest bald cypress trees in Florida. The group has made multiple requests of FPL to re-open the swamp and address the deteriorating condition of the area they promised to preserve.
Six of the activists entered the area of the Barley Barber swamp where the old boardwalk still stands awaiting visitors. They refused to leave their positions in the swamp without an official commitment from FPL to end their contamination and draining of area wetlands. Others were arrested during a support rally on adjacent property.
"I do not want to be arrested, but I will take the risk in order to raise awareness about the slow death that is occurring in the Barley Barber Swamp," said Stevie Lowe a Palm Beach County resident who is now in custody for trespassing into the closed swamp. "When FPL took ownership of this landmark they promised to preserve the old growth. They have not. They have expanded their power plant facility which has drained the swamp of its water and is causing it to die."
Noting the expansion of FPL power plants in the region, another arrested activist Ben Korn stated; "FPL has placed the two largest fossil fuel power plants in the entire country between Lake Okeechobee and the Loxahatchee River. They have not provided full environmental impact statements for either facility which drain water from the aquifer and release mercury contaminants. In seeing the harm done to Barley Barber, we reiterate our concern for the impact the West County Energy Center will have on the Loxahatchee River Basin and the greater Everglades."
Activist Russ McSpadden further added that "FPL must be held accountable. If the elected officials and state agencies assigned to protect our wetlands will not do their job, then we must do everything in our power to help save these precious areas. Our actions are already bearing fruit. FPL has now promised to reopen the swamp in 2010. We intend to hold them to their word and push for an early opening for scientific monitoring and will continue our fight against the West County Energy Center."
Members of the group will be outside Martin County Jail this evening for press comments.