Thursday, April 1, 2010

From Mecca to Briger, Scripps Biotech has been a bad neighbor to the greater Everglades bioregion

[Open letter to the environmental community of South Florida]

Hey folks,
Many of us stood together against the threat of Scripps Biotech development on Mecca Farms 5 years ago.. and we won that battle. But the fight to protect what's left of Florida's unique ecosystems and the endangered quality of life in our communities still continues on today.

In the past several years, we have made great strides in exposing developer greed, political corruption, and it's ecological impacts here in the greater Everglades bioregion. While the Briger Tract proposal for Scripps is smaller than the Mecca/Vavrus plan, it is the same Chamber of Commerce-lead Trojan Horse, intended to bust open one of the last, large forested places east of I-95 in south Florida. In fact, the site represents a habitat type even more threatened than what we fought for on Mecca Farms and its immediate surroundings.

The Scripps Phase II/Briger proposal is requiring a Comprehensive Plan change from Palm Beach Gardens tonite to invite Scripps and 682 acres of 'ancillary development'. We feel it is clear under County, State and Federal law, that the site should be subject to a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). Our simple request is that all involved Agencies and Governing Bodies, including the Palm Beach Gardens, acknowledge and honor that process.

I hope to see all those concerned with the rare habitats of south Florida out in Gardens with us tonite.

Everyone should be able to down load or view our recent report about Briger online here:

Hopefully it will help inform and inspire your public comments for tonite.

Our plan for today is as follows:

-6pm protest at PBG City Commission (Military and PBG Blvd)
-7pm Hearing.. Please be there promptly, and plan to stay a while. It is a quasi-judicial hearing, so all who swear in will have the right to speak and cross-examine witnesses.

The report linked here is what we have been working on all month. After tonight, perhaps we can schedule a time to all take a hike and show more folks first hand what we have been documenting. As deeply impacted the area is by development, it is still very beautiful and impressively biodiverse out there.

We have attached some of our favorite photos of the site in the above link, including an endangered Hand Fern on the Briger forest (one of over 55 spotted by our citizen surveyors), to show images of what we are fighting over. aside from its inherent value as a rare species on the brink of extinction, the fern is a very attractive plant as well.

-panagioti tsolkas
co-chair, PBCEC

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