Experts meet on Captiva for annual Everglades conference

Organizations from all over Florida are in Southwest Florida this weekend to discuss the next steps in Everglades restoration and our water crisis. They chose our region because we were the epicenter for blue-green algae and red tide in 2018.

The bottom line that everyone agreed on: We all want to protect our waterways and natural environment.

Several groups, made up of the best and brightest scientific minds, are meeting for the 35th annual Everglades Coalition Conference on Captiva Island this weekend to build a road map toward solutions for the water crisis in Florida.

“It makes me feel good that we’re talking about it finally,” said Leslie Turner on Sanibel Island. “That we’re concentrating on the Everglades, which, let’s face it, is a big filtering organism in the state.”

Turner understands the importance of preserving our precious resources. An active outdoorsman, she spends a lot of time on the water. She’s all for improving the Everglades.

Including Robert Moher with the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, more than 350 people are gathered at the conference.

“It’s always great, when we’re hosting this conference in Southwest Florida, which is seeing so much of the terrible impacts on the water quality issues,” Moher said. “So I think it gives us a chance to kind of take the state wide perspective and also have a regional perspective.”

Priorities discussed at the conference included preservation of natural habitats, gaining access to government funding and looking ahead to the future. Researchers also talked about restoring the historic north to south flow of water through the Everglades and Lake Okeechobee water management.

“How are we going to plan? How are we going to manage bro so we don’t add into the burden of the problem, as we have 1,000 people a day moving to Florida,” Moher said.

The Everglades conference began Thursday and comes to a close Saturday.

Looking at actions toward solutions in for water quality issues in the state, Mark Perry with the Florida Oceanographic Society points to projects like the C-44 reservoir (St. Lucie River).

“We’re raising it up. We’re putting several miles of bridges there to allow that flow,” Perry said. “And it’s working. We see it actually working.”

Reporter:Brea Hollingsworth
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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