Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Protest Calls Attention to Clearing of the Briger Forest, Despite Police Interference

by Everglades Earth First!

10801517_10152816896280928_3136914036456463746_nOn Friday, December 5, over 50 activists gathered for a rally outside of the Briger Forest in Florida’s Palm Beach Gardens. The group was protesting the Scripps Phase II project, which is currently clearing the 681-acre forest for the construction of a biotech city, complete with animal testing labs and shopping malls.

The Briger Forest is a unique mosaic of scrub, flatwoods and wetlands. Florida has more endangered and threatened species than any other continental state, and the habitat found in the Briger Forest is increasingly rare, as so much of Florida’s southeastern corridor has been paved over for development. There are at least 13 species of plants and animals listed for protection likely present in Briger.

Altering the rush hour traffic and neighboring communities to the destruction happening right behind the treeline, Friday’s crowd sang chants, flew flags, swung banners, and displayed signs in solidarity with the wildlife inside. The two-hour protest was completely peaceful, with the exception of one element: the police. Despite the fact that this was a legal gathering of families, students, activists and children engaging in free speech activities, Palm Beach Gardens police—many undercover—surrounded the protest, blocked traffic, followed vehicles, covertly filmed protesters, prohibited participants from accessing public roads, and used loudspeakers to shout their opinions and drown out the chants of the crowd.

Protesters are told they cannot protest on the public roads in front of a recently-cleared section of the Briger. Only days ago, the area directly behind this fence was dense with trees, shrubs, and animal life.
Protesters are told they cannot protest on the public roads in front of a recently-cleared section of the Briger. Only days ago, the area directly behind this fence was dense with trees, shrubs, and animal life.

grandiflora cop 1

Police prevent the public from getting footage of the leveled section of forest visible from the road.
Police prevent the public from getting footage of the leveled section of forest visible from the road.

This was not surprising to Everglades Earth First!ers, due to past experience, and in light of a Palm Beach Post article released the day of the protest. In the article, titled “Palm Beach Gardens Chief: Briger protest could endanger people,” the police chief claimed that he was concerned about Everglades Earth First! causing harm to businesses and individuals, based on the fact that we posted a link to a book called Ecodefense on our website.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Everglades Earth First! Lockdown Halts Destruction of Florida’s Briger Forest

Re-posted from the Earth First! Newswire

from Everglades Earth First!
PALM BEACH GARDENS, FL— Community activists with Everglades Earth First! have halted what they call Kolter Development’s “illegal” construction in Palm Beach Gardens’ Briger Forest. A disabled vehicle is sitting in the road at the construction entrance to the site and two people have locked their bodies to it. This week work crews began clearing trees for the construction, which has been mired in controversy for years. If completed, the development would destroy the 681-acre Briger Forest, one of the largest unprotected forests of its size in the southern region of the state.

Update: Three activists have now been arrested, while the van continues to blockade the entrance to the construction zone. Donate to their bail fund.

“We’re here stopping a crime; the illegal destruction of the Briger Forest. Kolter Group Co. is violating the Endangered Species Act and operating without all the proper permits fully approved,” Said Ryan Hartman. “The time for compromise is over. If we don’t take direct action and put our bodies on the line to protect what we have left, developers will pave over and pollute every last inch of this place.”

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

For a Greener Way

Or, Why you should come to the meeting against a new road on 7th Ave South in Lake Worth, Nov 6th, 6pm
This is 7th Ave South at F Street. Should this really be cleared for a paved road?
[UPDATE: Following this well-attended community meeting, city staff said they are going back to the drawing board for 7th Avenue South. Nice work folks!]

When I went out to knock on doors in the neighborhood surrounding 6th Avenue South yesterdayspreading the word about an attempt to pave a new roadI was reminded of the years I spent in the area working with families in a community garden on 6th Avenue and F Street.

After 8 years of growing fruits, vegetables and community bonds, the land we had worked was bulldozed, in 2007, by the forces of greed and indifference.

One year later the City of Lake Worth would spend millions to renovating the "gateway" corridors to get people from I-95 to the east side of town with a landscaped, whitewashed view of the south side.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Scripps CEO gets unanimous vote of no confidence from faculty; Reports $21 million deficit

The following two article offer some insight on internal conflicts that, with any hope, could tear the corporation apart before it destroys the Briger Forest for new labs for its profit-driven animal testing and genetic engineering research. Corruption and turmoil comes as no surprise from an operation whose previous CEO, Richard Lerner, was a scientists for the tobacco industry...

Scripps Faculty Call For Ouster Of CEO Michael Marletta

Scripps President and CEO Marletta
Credit: David Freeman/Scripps Research Institute
Proposed merger with USC angers researchers

United in dissent, faculty at biological research powerhouse Scripps Research Institute are reportedly calling for the resignation of the organization’s president and CEO, chemist Michael Marletta.

At issue is a June 16 announcement that Scripps is considering merging with or being acquired by the comparatively wealthy University of Southern California, in order to stabilize Scripps’ increasingly shaky financial outlook.

Scripps faculty have vehemently opposed this option. In a June 20 e-mail sent to Marletta and Scripps’ trustees board chair Richard A. Gephardt, 10 faculty department chairs and the dean of graduate and postdoctoral studies expressed “deepening concern for the future of our beloved institution.”

In the e-mail, faculty members say they are confident Scripps can and should remain independent. “We believe that the proposed path with USC would destroy much of what has been built and what we and others in the community value so much,” the group writes.

Marletta took over leadership of Scripps from longtime president and CEO Richard Lerner in January 2012. He is also a member of C&EN’s advisory board. Marletta served as chair of the chemistry department at the University of California, Berkeley, before moving to Scripps.

Scripps, a private research organization with campuses in San Diego and Jupiter, Fla., had a $398 million operating budget in 2012. It relies mostly on grants and, to a lesser, extent philanthropic donations for its funding. In 2013, 85% of its revenue came from the National Institutes of Health, according to credit rating agency Fitch Ratings.

But in recent years, competition for NIH funding has increased as the federal agency’s budget has stagnated. Meanwhile, Scripps is projecting a $21 million deficit for the current fiscal year ending Sept. 30. 

Scripps Project at Briger Forest: Enviros File Second Legal Challenge

Briger Forest in Palm Beach Gardens, threatened by Scripps

By Fire Ant, from New Times,

Palm Beach Gardens city leaders greenlighted the bulldozers early this month, cheering on the clearing of Briger Forest, the last major tract of undeveloped land along I-95 in Palm Beach County. Jobs! Progress! Townhomes!

But as night follows day, local environmental activists soon replied with a renewed assault on the developers' plans, pressing on with a challenge to the South Florida Water Management District's permits for the project.

See also: Scripps Florida Expansion Faces New Legal Roadblock, Environmental Challenge

Briger Forest, while not virgin, is relatively unspoiled. Straddling I-95 north of Palm Beach Gardens, covering almost 700 acres of land, it is a mix of hardwood forest, freshwater marshes, and prairie, an important locale for migrating birds. In addition to the Eastern Indigo Snake, an endangered species, it is home to the gopher tortoise, wood stork, snowy egret, and hand fern.
The developers' plans are tied to the local establishment's Ahab-like quest for the White Whale of bioscience dollars, the idea that public investment in projects like the Scripps Research Institute will ultimately bring a flood of money and jobs to the area.