Wednesday, July 29, 2009

[updated 9/4/09] EAGLE NATIONAL SECURITY TRAINING CENTER PROPOSAL in Highlands County, FL... Upcoming Meetings

From Highlands Today: "By 2010, if Seth Ellis gets his way, Venus will become known as a live-fire training center for the military, homeland security, local police, even foreign governments. Ellis appeared Tuesday at the Highlands County Commission meeting, requesting expedited permitting for Eagle National Security Training Center, a 7,700-acre expanse near the Glades County border."

Mark your calendars:


The Highland County PLANNING AND ZONING Board voted August 11, 2009 to suggest approval of the Eagle Training Center (ETC).. Their suggestion will be voted on by the County Commission at a public meeting, October 6, at 9am. [Sept 15 meeting ETC agenda item was switched to the Oct 6 meeting]

There is also a Highlands County Board of County Commissioners' (HCBCC) Land Use Change hearing August 18, which people are encouraged to attend. This Eagle Land Use agenda item may be moved to the October 6 meeting, but we feel it is important to attend both and show the HCBCC that there is growing opposition.

So mark your calenders and plan a visit to one of the most beautiful rural areas left in South Florida's greater Everglades watershed, habitat for the last Florida Panther and Black Bear.

The upcoming meetings are to create a new zoning category and land use changes to allow the building of the Eagle National Security Training Center in southwest Highlands County. Specifically, a 6,000 foot airstrip, helipad, 2,000 acre free fire zone, 5 story building, 25 single family homes, a dormitory for 1,000 trainees, 100 multi family residences, 2 - 250 foot training towers and 950,000 square feet of buildings for lodging, recreation, welcome center, operational and administrative buildings up to three stories.

Highlands County Government Center
501 South Commerce,
Sebring, FL (in Downtown Sebring)

HCBCC Meetings start at 9:00 AM
Public Comment will be allowed following discussion on the project..

Online articles at

For details call Planning & Zoning Dept., ask to speak with County Planner Don Hanna: (863) 402-6650
You can also have your comment included on public record by sending an email to Jodie Thayer: and Mark J. Hill:

If you cannot attend meetings, please send emails and phone calls to Commissioners:
Barbara Stewart:
Don Bates:
Jeff Carlson : 863-382-4141
Guy Maxcy: 863-385-7755W 863-385-1484H
Ed Stokes 863-655-0079, 863-402-6515

Appellate Bond set at $10,000 for FPL opponent;

Supporters seek to raise money for her release and spread awareness about Barley Barber Swamp

Contact: Everglades Earth First!,

Stuart, FL—Following a sentence of 90 days for her act of civil disobedience in Barley Barber Swamp, Martin County Judge Stewart Hershey continues to punish environmental activist Stevie Lynn Lowe for taking her case to trial by setting an exorbitant appellate bond of $10,000. Lowe has received the longest sentence to date out of nearly 50 arrests from recent protests against FPL in the Treasure Coast area.

Unlike other Everglades activists arrested for civil disobedience, Lowe was found Not Guilty of Trespassing in Barley Barber Swamp by a jury on Thursday of last week. She was sentenced nonetheless based on a lingering Resisting Arrest charge accompanying the unsubstantiated Trespass allegation. Her attorney began the process to appeal the guilty verdict and the sentence immediately following the trial.

This Monday Lowe was back in front of Judge Hershey for an appellant bond, expecting a worse case scenario of $3-5000. In similar trials last year against FPL in Palm Beach County, most FPL opponents were found guilty by a jury of two to three misdemeanor charges related to blockading a proposed power plant construction road in Loxahatchee (on the scandal-ridden Palm Beach Aggregates site). Two of these 18 protestors who took their cases to trial were sentenced to jail time—30 and 60 days—due to their prior arrest records, according to the court. Lowe has no known prior convictions on her record.

A portion of the funds needed for the bond are currently available through fundraising that occurred earlier this year immediately following the arrests at Barley Barber. But after court costs and legal fees from various court proceedings, several thousand is still needed to secure an appellate bond for Lowe.

“Stevie’s bitter victory in court last week was a step towards justice for South Florida’s unique environment. Through civil disobedience actions like hers, people around the world are beginning to know about the threat FPL poses to places like Barley Barber Swamp,” said Everglades Earth First! organizer Russell McSpadden. “Now that FPL has failed to establish ownership of Barley Barber, we are planning to host a series of canoe trips into the waterway. “

“That place [Barley Barber] is coming to represent a global turning point in the battle against energy giants like FPL.”

Everglades Earth First! will soon be coordinating outings to the swamp for members of the public and media. Please get in touch to find out more details about the trips. According to FPL’s own promotional material on the visitor boardwalk, regional waterways including Barley Barber “served as important military transportation and exploration routes,” leaving a reasonable person to safely believe that the unique area is a waterway intended to be used and protected for the people of Florida and the U.S.

For earlier reports, photos and videos related to Barley Barber, please visit the following sights:
Background and legal updates-
Recent video footage from inside Barley Barber-
Recent photos-
Protest news footage-
Background on Barley Barber-

Monday, July 27, 2009


News for Immediate Release
Date: 24 JUL 2009

The Florida Power and Light Company (FPL) is petitioning the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) for a whopping $1.3-billion dollar rate increase at a time when the U.S. economy is experiencing a devastating recessionary collapse across all sectors. Recently the PSC held service hearings around the state seeking public comments on FPL’s rate increase. But where was Charlie Crist, the Florida Governor during these PSC hearings? Crist was a no-show and failed to support Florida residents in seeking lower electric rates from FPL. However, Crist did invite the FPL Group Chief Executive Officer, Lewis Hay to attend his wedding late last year! Crist is also seen in an FPL video during Hay’s announcement of a solar plant in Florida. See,

Then you have one of the PSC’s Commissioners, Katrina McMurrian who accepted an invitation sent by the Electric Power Research Institute asking McMurrian to serve on an advisory group on smart grids and energy efficiency topics that form part of FPL’s rationale for increased rates.

Finally, its noted here that Crist appointed PSC Commissioner Nathan Skop – but Skop previously worked at FPL Energy – a subsidiary of FPL Group. According to Thomas Saporito, president of Saporito Energy Consultants, Inc.

“It certainly appears to me that Governor Crist and certain PSC Commissioners have a very cozy relationship with FPL at a time when FPL is seeking an unprecedented $1.3-billion dollar rate increase. The State Attorney’s Office should investigate.” Saporito said.

>>> End of release <<<

Friday, July 24, 2009

State Attorney unable to establish FPL ownership of Barley Barber in Trial;

Martin County comes down hard on swamp defendant Stevie Lowe despite Not Guilty verdict
For more info, contact:
[See more photos at:

Stuart, FL—Today’s victory against Florida Power & Light (FPL) was bittersweet for Stevie Lynn Lowe. The jury returned a ‘not-guilty’ verdict for the charge of Trespassing on the Barley Barber swamp, indicating that State Prosecutors, Maria Zamora were unable to establish clear property boundaries for the old-growth swamp claimed as private property by FPL . Yet, in a confusing twist of events, a verdict of ‘guilty’ was returned for the charge of Resisting Without Violence (a charge which rarely stands on its own.)

Everglades Earth First! (EEF!), the local group with which Lowe was a part of, celebrated the outcome as a victory towards truly preserving Barley Barber swamp. At the opening of the Defense’s case, Lowe’s Public Defender, Jordan Dershaw, filed a motion for a Judgment of Acquittal (JOA) based on the fact that Barley Barber swamp is a recognized navigable waterway with documented historical use for transport and commerce and its current connectivity to the L-65 Canal, St. Lucie Canal and Lake Okeechobee. The presiding County Court Judge, Stuart Hershey, denied the JOA, prompting Dershaw to present the expert testimony of hydro-ecologist Dr. Sydney T. Bacchus to establish the presence of this public navigable waterway.

Dr. Bacchus is an expert scientific witness in legal cases and has worked for several government agencies dealing with the jurisdiction of waterways, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD). Judge Hershey expelled Dr. Bacchus’ testimony from the trial, refusing to allow the jury to hear the expert testimony for themselves. The Judge used highly questionable grounds, utilizing weak case-law interpretation provided by the Prosecution.

Despite these substantial setbacks, the jury still ruled in favor of Ms. Lowe on the charge of trespassing. To a packed courtroom, the Judge sentenced Lowe to ninety days on the remaining charge of Resisting (Arrest) Without Violence. Lowe, who has no prior criminal record, was also given a year of probation, almost one thousand dollars in court and investigation costs. Supporters considered the ninety days excessive given the fact that the jury found her not-guilty on the charge for which she was arrested.

“Its a real David and Goliath story. Stevie Lowe bravely stood up to one of the largest corporations in Florida and won. FPL is destroying the natural heritage of Martin County. We need to hold FPL accountable for their destruction of Barley Barber swamp. Stevie has put us on the right path,” commented Everglades Earth First! organizer Russell McSpadden outside the courtroom.

Citing that a co-defendant of Lowe’s plead out to Judge Hershey earlier this month for a 5 day sentence, supporters stated that Lowe was being punished for exercising her constitutional right to a trial by jury. Several new motions and an appeal for Lowe's release are pending.

“While Martin County has attempted to intimidate and suppress the voices of FPL’s opponents, we remain more committed than ever to protect the ancient swamp of Barley Barber for future generations.”


An Appeal for Barley Barber and an Appellate Bond for Stevie Lynn Lowe:

Today [7/23/09] Stevie Lynn Lowe went to trial for her actions to defend and save Barley Barber Swamp. Stevie faced the charges of trespassing into Barley Barber and for resisting arrest when she swam through the swamp, climbed a tall Swamp Maple and locked herself to the tree. At 3705 Megawatts, FPL’s Martin County Power Plant, which sits adjacent to Barley Barber is killing the wetlands through hydrologic disruption and pollution.

The Jury found Stevie no guilty of trespassing. Neither the State nor FPL could prove that the energy giant owns Barley Barber. This was a major victory. However, the charge of resisting arrest without violence, a misdemeanor, stuck. The Judge presiding over the case sentenced Stevie, who has no prior record, to 90 days in jail and a year probation for that single charge which rarely stands on its own. This excessive sentencing is an obvious attempt to stifle dissent.

We may need to raise approximately $5000 dollars to get Stevie out on appellate bond while we proceed to appeal several aspects of the case, including the excessive sentencing. The money raised for bond will eventually come back to us after the appeal process and will we used for future organizing and legal support for direct action in the swamps.

Please donate money:
-via PayPal at

Monday, July 20, 2009


"dismantling the global energy empire and reconnecting with
our local communities"

The Soma Center
609 Lake Avenue
Lake Worth, FL 33460
(561) 296-9949

Presented by Panagioti Tsolkas, this talk will focus on the current situation with FP&L and the Everglades. In broader terms, Panagioti will discuss the dismantling of the global energy empire and reconnecting with local communities.

If you are passionate about the environment - in particular the Everglades - please come and show your support!

Donations for EARTH FIRST! are welcome!

Announcement from:

Barley Barber Trial Updates and Media Links (7/20/09)

[Message from Everglades Earth First!]

Hey Swamp Supporters, Stevie Lynn Lowe's trial started today. The only thing that took place was jury selection. Two others arrested near the Barley Barber protest had their charges dropped by the State.

Trial will continue for Stevie on Thursday at 9 am sharp in Stuart at the Martin County Court House. This will be a big day! Contact us to work out rides if you can make it out 561-588-9666.

for the wild,
-Everglades Earth First!

[Please feel free to forward and re-post these link]

Here are links to video and story from the day.

and here's a recent funny interview:

Saturday, July 18, 2009


Palm Beach Post (Florida)

[note from PBCEC: Below is an article from the Post last year which we felt was worth reprinting to remind people of the challenge and urgency we face in stopping FPL's West County Energy Center (WCEC). Our federal lawsuit is still pending, meanwhile FPL construction continues.]

October 7, 2008 Tuesday
Correction Appended

BYLINE: By MICHAEL LaFORGIA Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
LENGTH: 525 words

Florida wildlife conservation officials ignored concerns of two state scientists who predicted a new power plant would harm animals in an environmentally sensitive area, the scientists testified Monday in federal court.

The testimony came during a court hearing in which U.S. District Judge Donald Middlebrooks denied an environmental group's emergency request to suspend temporarily, construction of the West County Energy Center, a Florida Power & Light Co. natural gas plant being built on Southern Boulevard across from a national wildlife refuge.

During Monday's hearing, James Schuette and Timothy W. Regan, wildlife biologists for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, said they both evaluated plans for the proposed power plant and came away with concerns.

Schuette, a scientist with the commission for the past 17 years, said he anticipated the project might affect populations of gopher tortoises, wading birds and bald eagles, among other animals inhabiting the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge and surrounding areas.

Regan, who's worked for the commission for 35 years, said the plant might cause acid rain that would hurt fish and create higher levels of mercury in an already threatened section of the Everglades.

But when the scientists passed along their concerns to superiors, they said, senior commission officials didn't include them in a final report to the state Department of Environmental Protection.

Instead, Regan said, they omitted Regan's report, which focused on what he described in court as "a dangerous problem."

"No one ever came back to me," Regan said. "That's the last I heard of it."

In a letter to state environmental protection officials, Mary Ann Poole, director of the wildlife commission's Office of Policy and Stakeholder Coordination, wrote that the power plant would have "no impact" on wildlife in western Palm Beach County. The letter was read in court by Barry Silver, an attorney representing the Palm Beach County Environmental Coalition in a lawsuit filed against the state and its Department of Environmental Protection, which seeks to halt the plant's construction.

Schuette and Regan were the only conservation commission scientists to evaluate the plans, Silver said.

A representative of the wildlife commission in Tallahassee couldn't be reached for comment after hours Monday.

In response to questions about the commission's report to the Department of Environmental Protection, department spokeswoman Dee Ann Miller issued a written statement Monday evening.

"We respect the legal process and await the outcome of the hearing," the statement said. "We will evaluate the outcome at that time and examine its implications and available options."

After hearing from both sides Monday, Middlebrooks denied the environmentalists' request to halt construction of the power plant, saying the only portion of the project that fell under his jurisdiction -- a pipeline constructed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers -- was already completed and could not be stopped.

"I don't think there is any irreparable harm at this point," Middlebrooks said.


Monday, July 13, 2009

Co-Chair's Report from the Road(show):

From the swamps, through the heartland, into the cascades... and back!

Hey friends, family, acquaintances..
As many of you know, i have been out and about across the country on the Earth First! Roadshow for 4.5 months (more than 75 stops on the tour!). I am getting ready to make my way home and feel compelled to relay some of the important and timely news to y'all:

#1 Barley Barber Trial for swamp defender Stevie Lowe begins on July 20 in Martin County, FL. We are looking to pack the courtroom for the week. Can you help:

#2 Cascadia Summer is in full swing with treesits, road blockades, forest free states and a bunch of recent arrests. They are looking for support and solidarity:

#3 Roadblockers to I-69's NAFTA superhighway are experiencing some strange legal obstacles of their own. The State is accusing them of having mafia-esque criminal tendencies (even linking them to us 'mobsters' in the Everglades!)

Those are the brief summaries. There are further elaborations of each # below, with plenty of links and more specific requests. Please mark your calendars, make some calls and squeeze a little out of the billfold if you can afford it.

Big thanks to all who kept things kicking on the home-front and who offered support for the Earth First! Roadshow project. I look forward to seeing you all again.

for the wild,

p.s.. for stories/pictures from the Roadshow, check out:


The starting court date has changed from the 13th to the 20th of July. Please contact us for ways to help out.


Trial for Barley Barber swamp defender Stevie Lowe is set to begin on July 20th. Back in January of this year, Stevie stood up for the Barley Barber Swamp, an ancient cypress forest with the oldest cypress trees in the entire South East, by crossing into the swamp and locking herself into a tree to demand that FPL re-open and restore the ecosystem. She stood up to the Martin County Sheriff's and FPL security and she dealt well with the gators and snakes of the swamp she was protecting. But now she faces the legal system.

People who put their bodies on the line to protect wildlands deserve support.

The trial will exhibit the necessity defense which will allow us to put FPL and its crimes against nature on trial!!! It should be very exciting stuff!

On July 20th please join us at the trial's kick-off. There is no way to know how long trial will go on, but we expect it to last a few day. Once defense begins, it will feature Hydro-Ecology expert, Dr. Sydney Bacchus.

We will rally in front of the courthouse before the trial begins (around 8:30 am), then join Stevie in the courtroom to witness the public jury trial and show our support for these actions to expose FPL, re-open Barley Barber, protect the Everglades and promote a truly sustainable future.

Location: 100 East Ocean Boulevard, Stuart, FL
If you can drive or lend a vehicle please contact us. We will coordinate car-pooling! Please help us pull our resources together.

For those who can't make it, we are asking for financial support to assist in covering the legal expenses for this trial (donate online and find out more about Stevie's case at: )
Thanks for your support!

Call FPL and tell them to drop the charges and re-open Barley Barber

Everglades Earth First! crew


Dear Friends of the Forest,

On July 6th, at the culmination of the Earth First! Round River Rendezvous, forest defenders from Cascadia and across the country set up road blockades at the Umpcoos Ridge timber sale to defend some of the last native forests in Oregon from clearcutting. The Elliot State Forest is one of the few remaining intact coastal forest ecosystems, and provides critical habit for Spotted Owls, Coho Salmon, and Marbled Murrelets.

The blockades turned into a temporary ‘free state’—a living community of resistance—and brought national media attention to the plight of native forests and their vital role in storing carbon to stabilize climate change.

Logging was halted in the forest for several days but the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF), the State Police, and the Douglass County Sheriffs eventually extracted people from the blockades using police state tactics. 27 people were arrested in police raids on the blockade, which included intricate aerial structures such as bi-pods, tri-pods and ‘sky’ pods, to keep the logging company, Roseburg Forest Products, out of our country’s only native forests untouched by industrial logging (of which only 3% are still standing).

We are reaching out to our friends far and wide to gather support for those arrested, those facing potential charges for defending the forests and those who are continuing Cascadia Summer’s forest defense efforts. You can donate using paypal by going to the website

You can also call ODF to demand they withdraw, drop all charges and buy back the Umpcoos Ridge and Fishing Cougar timber sales from Roseburg Forest Products:

ODF # 503-945-7200
Roseberg Forest Products # 541-679-3311

Read and view photos about the Elliot Free State, Cascadia Summer and Oregon forests:

Updates from the blockade- and

Photos from logging on Umpcoos Ridge-

Check out the report on Democracy Now!


From the Forests,
Cascadia Summer (and friends)


I-69 Updates from Roadblock Earth First! New warrants and upcoming court dates

Below is a synopsis from:

As many have heard, two young organizers, Hugh and Tiga, who have been fighting the I-69 NAFTA Superhighway were arrested on bogus warrants several months ago, alleging that Earth First! was a mafia-esque criminal organization. Their first court dates are being shuffled around, but are currently set for August 25 at 9am in Pike County, Indiana. They are organizing to have a strong show of public support.

Another I-69 opponent was also recently taken by Indiana State Police, forced to give fingerprints and DNA. Philip Shelton was issued a search warrant authorizing his forceful detainment for the purpose of obtaining photos, fingerprints, and DNA samples. Four officers (2 ISP detectives, a uniformed ISP officer and another from the Department of Natural Resources) surprised Philip at his Bloomington home early in the morning of July 9th and escorted him to the State Police post. There, they executed the search warrant while repeatedly offering to buy him soda, then invited him out to lunch. Despite their buoyant charm, Philip declined and was driven back home.

Shortly thereafter, the probable cause affidavit requesting the search warrant was obtained from the Pike County Circuit Court, and the nature of the state’s interest in Philip further revealed. This document states that there are three reasons to believe that Philip “participated in the planning and/or execution of the July 9, 2007 office invasions” (during which supplies in various I-69 planning offices throughout the state were moved outside, in protest of evictions along the proposed I-69 route).

See the affidavit for yourself (it even includes a reference to Palm Beach County, Florida from our famed opposition to FPL’s new powerplant)


A Report From PBCEC's Environmental Summer Summit

On July 5, 2009 the PBCEC hosted its first ever Environmental Summer Summit. We chose July 5, 2009, the day after Independence Day, to call attention to the need for energy independence from fossil fuels and foreign governments. This dependence on foreign oil is a major cause of global warming, and compromises our ability to stand up to regimes that support terrorism, many of whom possess the oil we so slavishly depend upon to fuel our economy and our greed. To view WPTV News Channel 5's Report, follow this link:

Unfortunately, Palm Beach County and the State of Florida have decided to ignore all such concerns and take us down a deadly path of further reliance upon fossil fuels with their decision to construct and operate the West County Energy Center in western Palm Beach County. This plant will spew over 12.5 million tons of greenhouse gases per year into an already threatened atmosphere, consume approximately 6.5 billion tons of water per year and discharge its contaminated water into our aquifer with unknown and scary consequences, and will emit many toxins and pollutants in and around the Everglades, the Corbett, and the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge.

In addition to Global Warming, we confronted other “burning” issues that have been heating up over the summer. We heard from Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, student activists, animal rights groups, vendors of solar heating products, and others who shared with us their list of priorities for the summer.

My sincere thanks are extended to all who braved the heat and the mosquitoes, and my special kudos go to Danny Bicknell for his tireless and outstanding efforts in putting together this Environmental Summit, as well as to Lauren Graham for her talent and creativity in designing the new Palm Beach County Environmental Coalition T-Shirts.

T-shirts are available at cost for $5 by calling Barry Silver at (561) 483-6900 or e-mailing him at You can also obtain a T-Shirt at our next monthly meeting which will take place on September 14, 2009 (the first Monday of September is Labor Day) at 7:00 p.m. at the Quaker House in Lake Worth, address 822 North A Street. If you have news to report or would like more information about the PBCEC, please contact the Environmental Coalition at (561) 588-9666 or

Looking forward to seeing you at the meeting!
-Barry Silver