by Gary Cooper
With reference to the growing brouhaha, and continuing conflicting and heated rhetoric and misinformation swirling about south Florida algae and other related Lake Okeechobee water issues, the following letter was sent today to Congressman Brian Mast (R-FL 18th District). Mast has been extremely vocal and incendiary in his rhetoric and stated opinions on these issues, and is a key advisor to Gov Ron DeSantis on issues involving the waters of south Florida and the South Florida Water Management District.
The Honorable Brian Mast
171 SW Flagler Ave., Stuart, FL 34994
Dear Congressman Mast,
We have serious concerns about your recent statements and efforts, which indicate you have joined a small but vocal group of activists who have forgotten that SB10 is intended to keep fertile farmland in production until that land is needed to build the EAA Reservoir. In fact, lawmakers felt so strongly, that it was later written in statute in order to protect our communities, jobs, and economy.
Our state can still meet its environmental goals for the EAA Reservoir as outlined in SB10, but we must not forget that statute was written in a manner to protect much-needed jobs for our communities. While districts like yours have a variety of industries that provide jobs to your constituents, agriculture is the single most important economic engine and job provider for our region. Our communities and families have suffered great pain over the last 30 years as the government has continued to take our farmlands out of production.
It is for that reason that while SB10 was being crafted, Guardians of the Glades made it a point to travel hundreds of miles to Tallahassee to discuss the law’s impacts with legislators. Our residents fought for a seat at the table to help develop a compromise that would meet the bill’s environmental goals while protecting our jobs and the economic livelihood of our residents south of Lake Okeechobee.
In fact, while SB10 was making its way through the legislature, your constituents and our coastal neighbors testified at committee hearings that they agreed with us. They further asked lawmakers crafting a storage reservoir plan south of Lake Okeechobee to address our grave concerns about job loss and economic devastation.
That’s why we are extending an invitation to you to travel to our Glades communities to discuss the EAA reservoir and see the jobs and livelihoods at stake. From our perspective, it is important that any decisions that would affect the communities south of Lake Okeechobee take into consideration the human impact on us.
Steve Wilson, Mayor of Belle Glade
Keith Babb, Mayor of Pahokee
Joe Kyles, Mayor of South Bay
Tammy Jackson-Moore, Co-Founder of the Guardians of the Glades
Desmond Harriott, President, Glades Area Ministerial Association
Pastor Steve Nolin, President of the Belle Glade Chamber of Commerce