Thursday, February 3, 2011

Earth First! calls national attention to south Florida; hosts annual Winter Rendezvous on threatened Fisheating Creek

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Everglades Earth First!
Date: Sat, Jan 22, 2011 at 5:05 PM

For Immediate Release January, 21, 2011
Contact: Everglades Earth First!

Earth First! calls national attention to south Florida; hosts annual Winter Rendezvous on threatened Fisheating Creek

Palmdale, FL— Once again, the Earth First! movement will host its annual national Winter Rendezvous in the swamps of south Florida. This year it will be near the site of controversial Blue Head Ranch land in the Fisheating Creek watershed. The Creek and its headwaters straddle Glades and Highlands County, on the west side of Lake Okeechobee. The event will take place the weekend of February 11-14, 2011 just outside the town of Palmdale.

The local group, Everglades Earth First!, also hosted the national Rendezvous in 2008. The event resulted in a stand off at an FPL construction site across from the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge in which the Sheriff arrested 26 people for a road blockade that shut down operations.

Why Fisheating Creek?
The Creek, which is the last wild waterway that flows to Lake Okeechobee, is prime habitat for the endangered Florida panther, as well as Black Bear and the emblematic Swallowtail Kite. The Fisheating Creek watershed, which is an important part of the northwest Everglades region, is under attack by proposals for development and industrialization.

Primary threats include the approval of massive land use changes for 50,000 acres of urbanization in a substantial part of Fisheating Creek's headwaters (Blue Head Ranch); plans to pump water from the Creek and turn the nearby Nicodemus Slough wetlands into a reservoir; and drawing down of the water table by Cemex's expansion of sand mines around the Creek. Other detrimental plans in the regional include massive infrastructure for development in southwest Florida, namely the Heartland Parkway, and plans for development on endangered Scrub Jay habitat on the nearby Lake Wales Ridge.

"This is one of the most magical places in all of Florida," says local Earth First! organizer Rachel Kijewski. "We can't let it fall victim to the greed and corruption that has swallowed so much of this state."

What is Earth First!?
Earth First! is an international movement which advocates for direct action, including civil disobedience and 'monkeywrenching' (sabotage), to confront local and global environmental problems. For 30 years, the movement has used high-profile protests to draw attention to critical issues for threatened ecosystems and endangered species. The group also calls attention to a biocentric worldview that rejects industrial capitalism and a centralized state in favor of local autonomy and bioregionalism.

While the movement began in the American southwest in 1980, the 80s also saw an Earth First! Presence in Florida, where activist-biologists were calling for wilderness corridors to protect
panther habitat across the state. Today, Earth First! has re-established itself across the peninsula, including a recent move of the Earth First! Journal publication in December 2010 from Arizona to
Lake Worth, Palm Beach County.

What happens at the Rendezvous?
The Winter Rendezvous is preceded by an organizers' conference, both of which take place in a primitive camping area and is attended by people from across the country. The weekend will feature various workshops and discussions of environmental and social justice themes, music (including an Outlaws of Florida Folk evening on Saturday) and a community kitchen for group meals. Camps often end with a group activity to highlight threats and impacts to local ecosystems and surrounding communities.

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