NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Florida's "Sawgrass Rebellion" Against Everglades Project

August 22, 2002

Tropical grove owners in Florida whose lands are being constantly flooded by the federal government as part of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan charge their property values are being destroyed in an effort, abetted by environmentalists, to drive them out.

Western property-rights defenders -- who say the Endangered Species Act has undermined their own livelihoods -- are joining the Floridians in their fight to preserve their lands.

  • Led by the Paragon Foundation, dozens of grass-roots groups are organizing the "Sawgrass Rebellion" to bring national attention to the plight of the flooded-out farmers.
  • Caravans from Oregon and Ohio will leave in September and hold 40 rallies in 20 states before arriving in Florida in October for three days of protests.
  • Florida landowners contend the Army Corps of Engineers holds back water during the Cape Sable sparrow's nesting season in the Everglades -- raising the water table elsewhere and flooding nearby private land.
  • The Corps denies that, but it has tried to condemn 100 homes overlooking the flooded land, claiming it needs that as a buffer zone.

The Florida property owners won a federal district court decision last month involving the 100 homes located west of Miami known as the 8.5 Square Mile Area. The Corps of Engineers has not decided whether to appeal.

William Post, curator of ornithology at the Charleston Museum and a leading authority on the sparrow, points out that this species lives as far as 400 miles from the Everglades and would simply move out if they got flooded. He adds that "there's no point in flooding tens of thousands of acres of ground just to save a few birds on the west side."

Source: Audrey Hudson, "Floridians Cry Fowl Over Flooded Land," Washington Times, August 22, 2002.


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