Big Sugar Summit: Keynote Address: Chairman Colley Billie, Miccosukee Tribe
So honored that Chairman Collie Billie came and he was the keynote speaker at the Big Sugar Summit.
Meet Chairman Collie Billie
“I would like to take this opportunity to bring attention to the plight of the Florida Everglades in the hopes of inciting awareness and support for our struggles to help, protect, and defend this unique ecosystem for the next generations.
The Everglades is our mother. Until recently, it has protected and nurtured us. In our time, the delicate balance of the Florida Everglades has been pushed beyond its breaking point, and the Everglades is dying a slow death. We once were able to drink the clean water of the Florida Everglades. We were able to swim in its waters and eat from the land. Mismanaged by governmental agencies over the past 50 years, the water in the Florida Everglades is now heavily polluted. For this reason, crucial elements of our way of life are no longer possible.
The dire situation in the Everglades is a direct reflection of the struggle of the individual tribal member. We were once people who were able to thrive independently within the sanctuary of the Everglades, and our position has always been to be left alone to live as we used to live before Columbus. Our original way of life has been made virtually impossible because the land that we used to depend on is not the same. In a sense, we have been forced to come out into the non-Indian world and learn how to be a part of it and live in it. One of our responsibilities as members of the non-Indian world is to emphasize the quandary of the Florida Everglades to create positive change. The Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan was started around the year 2000. Thirteen years and over a billion dollars later, it has been unsuccessful in doing what it was purported to do—to re-establish the original path of water from Lake Okeechobee into Florida Bay. For example, the one-mile bridge that was recently constructed on the Tamiami Trail for the purpose of restoring sheet flow to Florida Bay has not done so. Yet there is a two-mile flyover bridge planned for the same purpose.
Historically, the problem with the restoration of the Everglades has been fragmented efforts with no solid, unifying direction. Projects have been based on the perspectives of people versus what is actually required for the Everglades to survive.
For the Miccosukee people, true restoration is to allow water to flow uninterrupted from Lake Okeechobee and wash out into Florida Bay. And that water must be clean. Only when the polluted water is cleaned can the Florida Everglades and its wildlife begin to recover.”
Here, Chairman Colley Billie is speaking to the Department of the Interior. If you follow the link you can read the whole thing.
construct a series of massive skyway bridges on the Tamiami Trail (Trail) including the currently proposed 2.6 mile bridge that will cost $193M because: (1) the bridges will not be permitted to operate as designed due to flooding and water quality concerns; and (2)there already exists a series of culverts that could effectively deliver water, during high water seasons such as if properly maintained at a fraction of the cost. At a minimum, NPS should be held to the requirements of the FY14 Omnibus with respect to securing all the should be held to the requirements of the FY14 Omnibus with respect to securing all the necessary funding for the project before being allowed to move forward with bridging.