News From the Chair May 2016

By Maryvonne Devensky

This month we had an excellent presentation by Dr. Wendell Porter at our general meeting. He is a UF Professor and an expert on renewable energy.  He was quite positive that we are on our way to clean and safe renewable energy production – solar and wind production are  making leaps and bounds worldwide…So that was great news. The sad part is that Florida (the Sunshine State, remember) may be the last one to join the bandwagon. To get more information on renewable energy, please go to the websites of, or to name a few sites with some good information.

At the same meeting, Dr. Porter was preceded by Johanna deGraffenreid, Advocate with the Gulf Restoration Network (GRN), who gave us a short but informative update on the Sabal Trail Pipeline project.  Remember that this project is Not a Done Deal!

Following that meeting, we were involved this past week with various events to oppose the Sabal Trail pipeline. On April 19, the Marion County Commission had the Sabal Trail pipeline on their Agenda (See Whitey Markle’s article). After Whitey Markle and other Sierra members spoke up about the risks involved, the commissioners decided to ask their staff to give them more information on the geology of Marion County along the route of the projected Sabal Trail pipeline. With that information, the Commission will decide what to write to the Army Corps of Engineers …Their next meeting is on Tuesday, May 3rd.

So the Sabal Trail pipeline project is NOT a done deal (See my article in Gainesville Sun on Sunday April 24th “Pipeline can still be reconsidered”).

On Wednesday April 20, some Sierrans, Spectrabusters, and WWALS Watershed Coalition members met at the RiverOak Technical College in Live Oak to hand out a flyer (written by John Quarterman, President of  the WWALS watersherd coalition) to contractors, students and the public as well. We were not a large group to protest the pipeline, but we were able to contact many people, and to hear students saying “No Fracking”. One contractor told us: “Thank you for being here…Really!”. Thank you to everyone who attended these meetings and who are speaking up against a project that has so many flaws and is not needed to Floridians.

We had two ICO outings: one to Old Town, with the Gainesville Job Corps to clean up trails on a beautiful property, followed by a picnic and a swim at the Manatee Spring State Park.

The students had fun working on the trails, removing dead branches, and later swimming in the clear water of the spring. Thank you to Sheila Payne for assisting in that outing.

On April 19, we took the elementary aged group from Cone Park Library Center to Ring Park, and they had a good time walking and running along the creek there….Such a beautiful park in the center of Gainesville. See the photos of the ‘children in the woods’…  The main reason to have such a program!!! Thank you Nancy Starrett and Destiny Henderson for assisting on that outing.

Last but not least, we had an Earth Day luncheon at the Thomas Center on Friday, April 22.
A fun event mixing nature lovers, environmentalists, and activists with artists whose poetry, music and dance are inspired by nature.  Indeed they inspired us all…

Thank you to all who came and especially Jim Gross, new Executive Director of the Florida Defenders of the Environment, and Pat Harden with the Protect Paynes Prairie Coalition who gave us an update on the work of their groups.
Let’s celebrate the beauty of the Earth on this Earth Day month and let’s oppose any project that has the potential to damage or ruin what is ours to enjoy!