Phosphate Mine Denied

It wasn’t us. It was the power of the people.

The Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie Rivers continue to be devastated by toxic cyanobacteria blooms. Businesses are severely affected. Real estate values are at stake. Many people living near the water have developed upper respiratory illnesses from exposure to the algae, which has been linked to neurodegenerative diseases such as ALS, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

We remain laser focused on long term solutions to this problem. The algal blooms are a symptom of a broken system. Everglades restoration will provide significant reductions in Lake Okeechobee discharges which fuel harmful algal blooms and destroy our estuaries. The EAA Reservoir has been on a roller coaster ride through the bureaucracies of Washington DC. We’ve had several victories in the last few weeks, but we have several more battles ahead before we can break ground. We are rallying our troops to send emails to their Senators asking them to include the EAA Reservoir in the 2018 WRDA bill. In the past 2 weeks, our advocates have sent over 10,000 emails to their respective Senators.

Although we are winning the fight to get the EAA Reservoir built, many other threats are facing our fisheries. Mosiac, a multi-billion dollar international corporation, was seeking to have the DeSoto County Commission rezone 18,000 acres of agricultural land so they could put in a phosphate strip mine. The mine would have discharged millions of gallons of wastewater into Horse Creek, which is a tributary of the Peace River and Charlotte Harbor. Mosaic has a long history of environmental destruction. They’ve been fined billions of dollars for the damage they’ve caused to local communities. On several occasions, sinkholes have collapsed under their facilities which dumped hundreds of millions of gallons of toxic water into the aquifers.

Read more about the impacts of phosphate mining:

https://www.tideandtale.com/blog-posts/2018/7/16/stop-mosaic-mines-save-the-gulf-coast

The 2018 red tide blooms in Charlotte Harbor have caused unprecedented fish kills. It started with fish- snook, redfish, tarpon and goliath grouper began washing up on the beaches of Boca Grande in late June. Although red tide is naturally occurring, the increase in frequency and duration of nearshore blooms is likely related to nutrient runoff. Phosphate mining within the Charlotte Harbor watershed contributes significant amounts of phosphorus to the watershed, and may be the reason the blooms have been so intense, and concentrated around the mouth of Charlotte Harbor.

Read more about red tide:

https://www.bonefishtarpontrust.org/blog/2018-06-25-red-tide-causing-unprecedented-fish-kills-southwest-florida

Local fishing guides spearheaded an uphill battle to stop the mine. It wasn’t a CFCW effort, but some of our members led the charge, and we commend them for their efforts. They deserve all of the credit for this. Captains Josh Greer and Rhett Morris along with Lee Richardson, Paul DeGaeta, Phoebe Menzer and many others organized local guides and concerned citizens to pack the room at a DeSoto County Commission meeting on July 24, 2018, the scheduled date for the vote on rezoning. They put so many people in the room that the Commission decided to extend the hearing the following morning. To the commissioners surprise, even more guides, anglers and concerned citizens showed up the second day to say “Enough is Enough.”

After 11 hours of public testimony with an overwhelming opposition to converting 18,000 acres of agricultural land into a phosphate mine, the DeSoto County Commission voted 4 to 1 to deny Mosaic the rezoning required to start the mine. Against all odds, the Commission voted to preserve the natural systems and waterways from Horse Creek all the way to Charlotte Harbor. These areas are vital for the local fishing and agricultural economies.

Read more on the ruling:

https://www.tampabay.com/news/environment/Mosaic-spent-20-years-planning-new-phosphate-mine-DeSoto-County-has-rejected-it_170349203

The power of the people can never be underestimated. Mosaic has a bad history of polluting the environment. Fishing guides have a reputation of fighting for what is right, and making lasting differences for future generations.

The tides have changed. Unprecedented numbers of individuals are inspiring each other to stand up and fight against special interests that prioritize profits over the wellbeing of our communities. We’re winning.