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Get rid of the people!

By Henry Lamb
web posted January 20, 2003

Florida's Senator Bob Graham wasted no time launching another attempt to flood the families who live in the now-infamous 8.5 Square-Mile-Area, at the edge of Florida's Everglades. A similar effort was quashed during the closing days of the 107th Congress. Now, before the new members of Congress even find the restrooms, Graham has re-instituted his devious plan to force several hundred families from their homes, ostensibly, to "protect the Everglades."

In 1989, after vigorous debate, Congress instructed the Corps of Engineers to protect the people in the 8.5 SMA, by building flood control structures. It never happened. Environmental organizations wanted the people out, not protected. Their vision of the Wildlands Project did not include human life in the area they thought should be a buffer zone around the core wilderness area - as prescribed by the Wildlands Project.

Graham speaks to the media after giving his speech at the 18th annual conference of the Everglades Coalition in Delray Beach, Fla. on January 11
Graham speaks to the media after giving his speech at the 18th annual conference of the Everglades Coalition in Delray Beach, Fla. on January 11

Graham, who wants to be your president, would have you believe that it is just a coincidence that UNESCO's Seville Strategy for managing U.N. Biosphere Reserves, requires a buffer zone around core wilderness areas, as does the U.N.'s Global Biodiversity Assessment. The Everglades is one of 47 U.N. Biosphere Reserves in the United States. It is also just a coincidence that UNESCO requires World Heritage Sites which are declared to be "in danger," to be protected beyond the borders of the site. UNESCO has declared the Everglades to be a World Heritage Site "in danger."

There are two problems here: the end, and the means. The "end," - flooding people out of their homes - is definitely a problem. Environmentalists would have you believe that getting rid of the people is essential to saving the Everglades.

Jan Jacobson, Director of the Everglades Institute, a scientist, and a long-time resident and student of the Everglades, is among several scientists and engineers who can demonstrate that the flooding plan so far, has done more harm than good to the Everglades.

The "means," is another horror story. Rather than put the question to Congress in the form of a substantive legislative proposal, so members can study, debate, and vote, Graham, once again, is attempting to attach a rider to the Department of Interior appropriations bill, and get it adopted by unanimous consent.

The language of the rider seeks to "clarify" the 1989 legislation, by saying it was the intent of Congress to flood the area, when the clear language of the 1989 law, says to protect the people from flooding. Moreover, he wants to sneak this language into an appropriations bill without any discussion or debate. And this man wants to be our president?

Washington is awash with environmental organization lobbyists and spin doctors who are trying to divert attention from the real issue, by demonizing those who disagree with them. They dredge up the "anti-environment" label to pin on anyone who questions their wisdom, or has the audacity to oppose them.

Senator James Inhofe, chair of the Environment and Public Works Committee, and Richard Pombo, chair of the House Resources Committee, already targets of the environmentalists' demonization campaign, will likely be singled out for more attacks, if they disallow the devious process Senator Graham is trying to pursue.

Graham's effort to flood the landowners who live near the Everglades should be stopped. The entire Everglades Restoration Plan should be put on hold, until there is a better plan that instills some level of confidence that the plan will actually benefit the Everglades.

Advocates of the Wildlands Project contend that simply removing the people, will benefit the Everglades. This same anti-human thinking is what shut off the water to the Klamath Basin farmers; is shutting down logging across the country; and is forcing ranchers and miners off the land.

For eight long years, environmentalists had their way, as Bill Clinton and Al Gore danced like puppets at the end of a green string. Now, as Republicans begin to retrieve the pendulum from the far left, and return some semblance of common sense to the environmental agenda, whining and demonizing by the greens is being ratcheted up a few notches.

It is bad enough that for 13 years, green organizations have been able to prevent the Corps of Engineers from complying with the 1989 Congressional instruction. It is unconscionable for Senator Graham to now attempt to rewrite the law, without debate or recorded vote - to get rid of the people - in order to appease the anti-human influence that apparently permeates Florida politics.

Henry Lamb is the executive vice president of the Environmental Conservation Organization, and chairman of Sovereignty International.

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