Over 20 protestors rushed the offices of Kolter Group’s “Kolter Urban” branch building with signs, banners, air-horns and other noisemakers, demanding that the permits for Kolter’s development of the Briger Forest be revoked. Amidst the chaos, two eco-warriors entered the lobby and locked down throat-to-throat, disrupting business as usual for two and a half hours.
This action occurred because Kolter plans to build 360 houses and townhomes in the Briger Forest, a 681-acre tract of land in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. They are working off deeply flawed permits and have cleared a massive access road which was never approved by South Florida Water Management District. Another concern is the recent relocation of the area’s gopher tortoises and the destruction of the tortoise’s burrows, which provide habitat for several other species, including the endangered Eastern indigo snake.
“There’s so little of the wild left in this area, it just doesn’t make sense for them to be cutting this,” said Juan Chévere, one of the two who locked down. “We don’t need more development, more urban sprawl. For what? So Kolter can make a buck and Scripps can build animal testing labs? No thanks. The forest is surrounded by schools, it should be treated as an educational resource.”
When the extraction team arrived, it was requested that a medic be allowed to observe–this request was denied. It was then requested that the extraction team wait until an EMT arrive–this too was denied.
Before the cutting began, the support team was forced to leave. Shortly thereafter, one of the people locked down was taken to the hospital for injuries to the knee reportedly inflicted by a police officer. (At the time of this writing, no further details are known.)
Everglades Earth First! has been fighting the development of the Briger Forest since it was first proposed over ten years ago. In November, two members of Everglades Earth First! locked themselves to a disabled van to prevent entrance to the construction site. In 2011, there was a six-week-long treesit inside the forest.