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.”
Groups like Everglades Earth First! and the Palm Beach County
Environmental Coalition (PBCEC) have been fighting to protect the Briger
Forest since 2010. Last winter a justice department lawyer admitted to
PBCEC’s lawyer Bill Eubanks that there were no practical alternatives to
site layout designs that could both benefit continued snake use of the
site and also satisfy the project’s purpose and need, effectively
sentencing to death any Eastern Indigo Snake on the property. The
Eastern Indigo Snake is one of 13 state and federally listed animal and
plant species whom the Briger is suitable to support. A member of PBCEC
is also appealing permits for construction needed from the South Florida
Water Management District. Beyond the legal challenges the groups have
gathered hundreds of petition signatures, held demonstrations and even
staged a six-week tree-sit in the forest to protest the development.
“Kolter and Palm Beach County have had a corrupt deal from the
beginning. It is a crime against nature for developers to keep
bulldozing over wild South Florida in order to perpetuate an animal
torturing biotech expansion agenda.” Said Ashley Lyons.
Since the early 2000’s, Jeb Bush has tried to lure the Biotech
industry to Florida with heavy state and local subsidies including this
project and the construction of a campus for biotech company Scripps
Florida. In the past few years Scripps has received about half a billion
dollars in state subsidies for new facilities and has an agreement to
lease the county owned portion of the property for $1 dollar a year
ensuring their corporate welfare for years to come.
With the construction of a massive primate breeding facility in
Hendry County, the “progressive” biotech industry is solidifying it’s
future of inhumane animal testing and Scripps will be no exception.
Scripps in Lajolla, CA has a history of testing on primates and Scripps
Phase II will more than likely vivisect primates if constructed.
Everglades Earth First! promises to continue fighting the development every step of the way.
“We’re going to fight this project until it’s stopped because this forest is worth fighting for.” Said Rachel Kijewski.
For more information visit www.ScrapScripps.info