Help persuade National Park Service (NPS) to block massive powerlines across Everglades National Park. Our voices are definitely being heard.
The deadline for electronic submission of public comments is next Monday, July 25th, at midnight. Comment form is here:
Some things to consider with regard to submitting comments. Everglades National Park contains remnants of a completely unique planetary ecosystem. In addition to being the first “biological park” in our nation’s history and by far the largest designated wilderness in the eastern United States, the park is also a World Heritage Site, an International Biosphere Reserve, and a Wetland of International Importance. Unfortunately, Everglades National Park also consistently ranks among “top travel destinations to see before they disappear” – and approximately one million visitors per year take that opportunity. See example here – article also provides a good summary of the basic problem:
NPS has created a rather complex public comment form for this project and folks wanting to comment are free to jump to the final box and tell the park service in your own words how you would like your park to be managed with regard to these powerlines. Answering the questions posed by NPS is completely optional and should not keep folks from commenting in the open comment box at the bottom. While signing a petition is easier it is NPS policy to treat all form letters – no matter how many come in – as a single response. Unique letters of any length are definitely the way to make an impact in this case. Also good to keep in mind – officers of the National Park Service are your public servants – they work for you. No need to be shy.
NPS has identified three alternatives for folks to consider:
1. The “No Action Alternative”. Florida Power and Light (FPL) would retain their old corridor inside the park and it would be up to FPL to try and get their massive powerlines permitted. Just about impossible since the 1989 Everglades National Park Protection and Expansion Act required that this land be acquired and be managed as “park”. Utility lines have already been considered and rejected as an “incompatible use”. This alternative – leaving in place a corridor which could lead to 150 foot high transmission towers inside a National Park – is also completely inconsistent with the mission of the National Park Service as stated in the Organic Act of 1916:
“…to promote and regulate the use of the…national parks…which purpose is to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.”
2. Do the land swap which was authorized (but not mandated) by a rather strange inclusion buried deep in the massive Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 (Section 7107). NPS would acquire the original FPL corridor – but would give up NPS land on the east side of the park. Everglades National Park would also gain a new industrial horizon visible to visitors throughout the area. Along with the necessary utility access road which would be constructed, the project would likely lead to severe impacts on wetlands, bird and animal populations (especially bird collisions and electrocutions), and facilitate the spread of invasive plant species throughout the area. A good summary article dealing with potential impacts of this project is here:
3. Acquire the land as required by the 1989 Act. In 1996, NPS wrote a short letter to FPL telling the company that the “fair market value” of the property was determined to be $109,300 (ironically, NPS now intends to spend over $500,000 of the taxpayers money just to do a “study”). The company could do a voluntary sale or – if they refused – NPS would acquire the property by eminent domain in order to fulfill the purposes of the Act – the ecological and hydrological restoration of Everglades National Park. No powerlines or access road would be built.
Alternative 3 was exactly what congress intended when this important piece of public land was acquired. It is fully supported by South Florida Wildlands Association and numerous local and national environmental organizations. It is also supported by the 1989 Act and the NPS’s own 1991 Land Protection Plan written to implement that Act.
After over 20 years of foot dragging, it’s high time for the NPS to fulfill the promise made to the American people. Your comments can insure that happens:
Folks preferring regular mail can submit written comments to the following address:
National Park Service Denver Service Center – Planning
Attn: FPL Project Planning Team
P.O. Box 25287
12795 West Alameda Parkway
Denver, CO 80225-0287
Feel free to share your ideas on protecting wildlife habitat in south Florida – or post photos of your own favorite places in the greater Everglades – to this Facebook page
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