When: Friday, November 6th, 5 AM – 9:30AM Where: Palm Beach Gardens, FL, on Hood Road. between Parkside Dr. and Central Blvd. please donate https://www.everribbon.com/ribbon/view/16764 to assist in legal fees Click here for local media coverage on the protest
PALM BEACH GARDENS, FL—In the dead of night, lit by a full moon, Everglades Earth First! responded to Kolter Group Co.’s illegal clearcutting in Palm Beach Gardens’ Briger Forest by locking down to a disabled vehicle in the construction entrance to the forest. The vehicle read “Save Briger!” and the blockade successfully stalled construction and business as usual for over four hours before the 2 lockdowners were extracted by the police and the vehicle towed away. Construction trucks were stuck parked on the road for hours or turned away due to the protest.
Although unintentional, the Jewish Community Center (JCC) was directly effected by the blockade. JCC decided on their own accord to cancel classes for the day; however the shut down enabled important conversations with JCC staff, administration and activists. On the ground at the site of the blockade, there was a lot of public support from drivers and local residents.
Some residents had no idea the project even existed an were appalled to see more development happening at their door step. One local resident explained that when they had moved to their neighborhood in the 80’s, they moved there because it was remote and quiet. Now development encroaches on their home on all sides and the lack of wild space deeply saddens them.
If completed, the development would destroy the 681-acre Briger Forest, one of the largest unprotected forests of its size in the southern region of the state.
“We’re here stopping a crime; the illegal destruction of the Briger Forest. Kolter Group Co. is violating the Endangered Species Act and operating without all the proper permits fully approved,” Said Ryan Hartman. “The time for compromise is over. If we don’t take direct action and put our bodies on the line to protect what we have left, developers will pave over and pollute every last inch of this place.”
A new development arose this morning after the protest as a concerned citizen inquired about the removal/clearing permits from Palm Beach Gardens. PBG City Hall employees were unable to provide proof of any approved permits for any part of the 681 acre site. Some permits for clearing the site, were not even pending.
Groups like Everglades Earth First! and the Palm Beach County Environmental Coalition (PBCEC) have been fighting to protect the Briger Forest since 2010. Last winter a justice department lawyer admitted to PBCEC’s lawyer Bill Eubanks that there were no practical alternatives to site layout designs that could both benefit continued snake use of the site and also satisfy the project’s purpose and need, effectively sentencing to death any Eastern Indigo Snakes on the property. The Eastern Indigo Snake is one of 13 state and federally listed animal and plant species whom the Briger Forest is suitable to support. A member of PBCEC is also appealing permits for construction needed from the South Florida Water Management District. Beyond the legal challenges the groups have gathered hundreds of petition signatures, held demonstrations and even staged a six-week tree-sit in the forest to protest the development.
“Kolter and Palm Beach County have had a corrupt deal from the beginning. It is a crime against nature for developers to keep bulldozing over wild South Florida in order to perpetuate an animal torturing biotech expansion agenda.” Said Ashley Lyons.
Since the early 2000’s, Jeb Bush has tried to lure the Biotech industry to Florida with heavy state and local subsidies including this project and the construction of a campus for biotech company The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI). In the past few years TSRI has received about half a billion dollars in state subsidies for new facilities and has an agreement to lease the county owned portion of the property for $1 dollar a year ensuring their corporate welfare for years to come.
With the construction of a massive primate breeding facility in Hendry County, the “progressive” biotech industry is solidifying it’s future of inhumane animal testing and Scripps will be no exception. TSRI in Lajolla, CA has a history of testing on primates and Briger/Scripps Phase II will more than likely vivisect primates if constructed.
Everglades Earth First! promises to continue fighting the development every step of the way.
“We’re going to fight this project until it’s stopped because this forest is worth fighting for.” Said Rachel Kijewski.
Please donate to support their court costs here: https://www.everribbon.com/ribbon/view/16764
For more information visit www.ScrapScripps.info