Saturday, November 5, 2016

A Major Referendum in Brevard County to Save the Indian River Lagoon

by Deborah Longman-Marien - Sierra Club Turtle Coast Group Chair

A major effort is going on right now in Brevard County to get voters to pass a referendum, whose purpose is to begin major restoration to the Indian River Lagoon, 70 percent of which lies in Brevard County. Community volunteers, including many local Sierrans have been pounding the pavement, delivering leaflets door to door, waving signs, and tabling to inform residents of Brevard County the importance of passing the ½ cent sales tax to raise the funds needed over a ten year period to begin to seriously address clean up of the Indian River Lagoon. The project will be overseen by an oversight committee, selected by local members of the coalition and the county, using scientific criteria to oversee the progress of the work and make sure that taxpayers money goes towards the cleanup and restoration of the Lagoon and not towards other expense.

The Brevard Indian River Lagoon Coalition was developed early in 2016. Leaders and representatives of lagoon/water advocacy groups and organizations around the county (and surrounding counties) gathered together to create a large-scale effort to save the Indian River Lagoon once and for all. Local Turtle Coast Group Sierra members were among the founding board members of the Brevard Indian River Lagoon Coalition, a 501c3 non-partisan group. As organizational efforts continued to develop, the fish kill of March 2016 was a clear call for immediate engagement in the community.

The Coalition's first Call to Action event occurred on April 20th at FIT's Gleason Performing Arts Center, where nearly 500 people gathered to listen to experts and community voices and to learn about what was ailing our Lagoon. In the following months, the Coalition continued to organize and draw allies and strategic partners throughout the community to become a true force for education, advocacy, and change. Sierra Club is a major partner.

The results of the planning was that on August 9, 2016, after an afternoon of passionate discussion, after presentation of the Save Our Lagoon Project Plan, Brevard County Commissioners Voted 5-0 to approve the ballot measure, and voted 5-0 in favor of a ½ cent sales tax in order to fund this restoration.

Turtle Coast group gave $500 to the PAC created to get the word out to voters about the issue. The Florida Chapter donated $1000 to the PAC and encouraged members to match that. Florida Chapter and Turtle Coast Group are listed as Strategic Partners in this effort.

If you live in Brevard County, please vote yes on the Referendum. To learn more about this project, and the full plan is found here
visit these sites.

Thank you Sierra Club for your support of Saving the Indian River Lagoon.