2020 Conference Plenary and Breakout Presentations

Below we have copies of the power points featured during the 2020 conference. Please not all sessions had presentations. 

Everglades 101: History and Restoration - CLICK HERE to view the presentation. 

           Join the Everglades Coalition for a pre-conference panel discussion on the history and status of Everglades restoration.

           Participants will get an overview of the historic Greater Everglades ecosystem, changes that have been made to the

           system, and an update on key restoration projects. Open to the public and appropriate for all audiences – from beginners

           to experts.


           Dr. Stephen Davis, Communications Director & Senior Ecologist, Everglades Foundation


           Drew Bartlett, Executive Director, South Florida Water Management District
           Cara Capp, Everglades Program Manager, National Parks Conservation Association

           Pedro Ramos, Superintendent, Everglades National Park

Water Quality: From Crisis to Action - CLICK HERE to view the presentationPlease note only one panelist featured a power point presentation during this plenary.

           This plenary will explore the saying “never let a good crisis go to waste” as it pertains to Florida’s devastating harmful

           algal blooms and efforts to address nutrient pollution sources that fuel reoccurring toxic algae throughout Florida’s

           waterways. We are in an exciting time with the alignment of projects in sight of completion, the Governor’s Executive        

           Order to address water quality, and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s reevaluation of water quality

           standards. The panel will highlight the progress made by agencies and appointed and elected leaders over the past year              to answer the questions: What has been accomplished and what remains? What are the regulatory or legislative        

           opportunities? How will this benefit the Greater Everglades ecosystem and our estuaries? Join a panel of leaders and      

           experts for a discussion on the opportunities to shift Florida’s water quality approach from reactive to proactive - a new

           paradigm that charts a path to clean water that supports ecosystems, human health, and Florida’s tourism-based economy.



           Rae Ann Wessel, Natural Resource Policy Director, Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation



           Marisa Carrozzo, Environmental Policy Manager, Conservancy of Southwest Florida

           Chauncey Goss, Chair, South Florida Water Management District Governing Board

           Dr. Mike Parsons, Blue-Green Algae Task Force & Florida Gulf Coast University 

           Gary Ritter, Assistant Director of Community Affairs, Florida Farm Bureau

           Noah Valenstein, Secretary, Florida Department of Environmental Protection

Restoration Ready: Removing Barriers to Sending Water South - CLICK HERE to view the presentationPlease note only one panelist featured a power point presentation during this session.

           Freshwater laced with excess nutrients hurt the northern estuaries on the receiving end of Lake Okeechobee    

           discharges. Meanwhile, lack of clean freshwater flow to Florida Bay hurts habitat needed to support world-class

           recreational fishing in the Florida Keys and iconic species like the Roseate Spoonbill. Restoring the historic north-to-south

           flow of water through the Everglades is at the heart of bringing the ecosystem back into balance and putting an end to the

           toxic algal bloom-to-seagrass die-off pendulum that fouls South Florida’s waterways year after year. Only diverting water

           away from the estuaries, cleaning it, and rerouting it south into Everglades National Park and Florida Bay will bring relief

           to all three estuaries in distress. Panelists will discuss threats as well as opportunities to increasing freshwater flow into

           Everglades National Park and Florida Bay, in light of the recent historic completion of foundation projects in the

           southernmost region of the ecosystem.


           Celeste De Palma, Director of Everglades Policy, Audubon Florida


           Dr. Evelyn Gaiser, George M. Barley Jr. Endowed Chair of Everglades Research, Florida International University

           Daniella Levine Cava, Miami-Dade County Board of County Commissioners
           Cheryl Meads, South Florida Water Management District Governing Board
           Lt. Col. Todd Polk, Jacksonville Deputy District Commander, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

           Dr. Thomas Van Lent, Vice President of Science and Education, Everglades Foundation

Lake Okeechobee Management: The Big Water - CLICK HERE to view the presentation

           This plenary panel will provide a forum for expert, science-based dialogue on the management of Lake Okeechobee as the

           heart of the Greater Everglades Ecosystem. The current effort to update the Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual

           (LOSOM) is a key factor for how lake water will be managed for many purposes and specifically for the ecosystem health

           throughout the Greater Everglades. Lake Okeechobee is truly at the heart of the Everglades ecosystem, where the water

           flows from the headwaters 100 miles north of the lake, pauses in the 730 square mile lake, and then continues south 100

           miles through the Everglades to the southernmost tip of Florida’s mainland and into Florida Bay. Major efforts since the

           early 1990s to control the lake from flooding now pose significant challenges to restoring the Everglades.


           Mark Perry, Executive Director, Florida Oceanographic Society


           Dr. Dale Gawlik, Director and Professor, Environmental Science Program, Florida Atlantic University Dr. Paul Gray,        

           Everglades Science Coordinator, Audubon Florida
           David E. Hazellief, Okeechobee County Board of County Commissioners
           Col. Andrew Kelly, Jacksonville District Commander, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

           Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch, South Florida Water Management District Governing Board

Acronym Soup: The ABC’s of Everglades Restoration - CLICK HERE to view the presentation

           The Everglades, named the “River of Grass” by Marjorie Stoneman Douglas, once flowed from the Kissimmee River

           Valley to Lake Okeechobee all the way to Florida Bay. Water meandered slowly through an expansive area of sawgrass              plains, ridges and sloughs and supported a rich kaleidoscope of animal and plant life. Today the Everglades is only about            half the size it was 100 years ago due to successful efforts to drain land to support agriculture, residential, and        

           commercial development. The construction of roads, canals, and levees created barriers to the natural flow of water,      

           disrupted the timing, quantity, quality and distribution of flows and resulted in degraded water quality, loss of water    

           storage, significant loss of wetlands and other critical habitat, harmful algal blooms, seagrass die-offs and billions of    

           gallons of water wasted to tide. Everglades restoration is a comprehensive effort to reverse the unintended consequences

           of draining the Everglades and restore the ecosystem’s hydrology, improve water quality, restore natural habitats and

           protect native species. Restoration has a language of its own – CERP, C&SF, EAA, WCA, HHD, STA, SFWMD, DEP,    

           USACE, LOSOM – the extensive list of acronyms used by experts to describe the agencies, projects, features and

           processes of restoration. Panelists will provide a brief overview of the history and importance

           of the Everglades, discuss Everglades restoration and describe key restoration projects through the lens of the dizzying list

           of acronyms with the goal of providing those who are new to restoration with a sound foundation.


           Doug Gaston, Northern Everglades Policy Analyst, Audubon Florida


           Shannon Estenoz, Vice President of Policy and Public Affairs, Everglades Foundation
           Lawrence Glenn, Water Resources Division Director, South Florida Water Management District

           Howard Gonzales, Ecosystem Branch Chief, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District

Clean Water Connection: Everglades Restoration and Marine Health - CLICK HERE to view the presentation

           The Greater Everglades ecosystem is intrinsically connected to the surrounding marine environment, including coral reefs,              seagrass beds, and diverse marine wildlife. Unfortunately, a lack of progress in Everglades restoration is contributing to

           the degradation of marine ecosystems and wildlife. Inadequate freshwater flows are impacting Florida Bay, Biscayne

           National Park, and the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, while the discharge of nutrient-laden water from Lake

           Okeechobee and resulting algal blooms are causing serious damage to the Florida Reef Tract and marine wildlife like

           whales, manatees, fish, and dolphins. However, solutions exist and there are steps we can take to protect and restore

           South Florida’s marine environment. Join us as we dive into a discussion focused on the connectivity between the

           Everglades and the ocean, and actionable solutions we can employ to help address these problems.



           Caroline McLaughlin, Sun Coast Associate Director, National Parks Conservation Association



           Karen Bohnsack, Associate Director, Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary
           Madeline Kaufman, University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science
           Jamie Monty, Manager, Florida Department of Environmental Protection Coral Reef Conservation Program

           Dr. Ryan Orgera, CEO, Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation

Protecting the Everglades Headwaters (Multi-Agency Conservation Efforts) - CLICK HERE to view the presentation

           The Everglades Headwaters National Wildlife Refuge and Conservation Area was formally established in 2012 with the              U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in partnership with multiple state and federal agencies, ranchers, sportsmen and the

           environmental community. These partners have been working together to secure funding and negotiate conservation    

           solutions that balance continued ranching, water storage and habitat protection. Through creative partnerships with state              and federal programs, many thousands of acres have been protected, leveraging state and federal dollars using a                        combination of conservation easements, which leave land in private ownership and on the tax rolls, and land acquisition

           from willing sellers. This panel will focus on the multi-agency land and water conservation efforts, how the state and

           federal agencies are partnering with NGO’s, Avon Park AirForce Range and the sportsmen and ranching communities to

           achieve success. The panel will also focus on the status of state and federal programs (including LWCF, NRCS, Florida.  

           Forever, Rural and Family Lands Program and the Department of Defense’s REPI Program).



           Jon Andrew, Florida Outreach Coordinator, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership



           David “Lefty” Durando, President, Durando Family Ranches
           Jennifer Leeds, Interim Division Director of Ecosystem Restoration, South Florida Water Management District

           Charles “Buck” McLaughlin, Director of Operations, Avon Park Air Force Range
           Bill Miller, Project Leader, Everglades Headwaters National Wildlife Refuge Complex

           Julie Morris, Florida and Gulf Program Manager, National Wildlife Refuge Association

Resilience Through Restoration: Connecting America’s Everglades to Climate Mitigation & Adaptation - CLICK HERE to view the presentationPlease note only one panelist featured a power point presentation during this plenary.

           South Florida is already experiencing the impacts of a changing climate. More intense and frequent storms and

           flooding, saltwater intrusion, and species migration are well documented. The Greater Everglades Ecosystem is critical to              enhancing the resilience of Florida. Because South Florida is ground zero for climate change, Everglades restoration is one            of the most significant tools that Florida, and indeed the entire U.S., has to both mitigate and adapt to climate change.

           From restoring mangrove shorelines and seagrass that will help mitigate climate impacts, to protecting our drinking water              supply from saltwater intrusion, expediting Everglades restoration will make our region more resilient. For example, during            Hurricane Irma in 2017, the nearly completed Army Corps’ Kissimmee River Restoration project held significant amounts of            water in the northern Everglades, as the historic floodplain had done in the past. The restoration kept large volumes of      

           water from being channeled quickly and directly into Lake Okeechobee, helping to avert the potential breach of the      

           Herbert Hoover Dike. In addition, the urgent need for clean, renewable energy in Florida cannot be ignored when talking              about climate impacts. As we’re already witnessing climate-related changes in wetlands, reducing greenhouse gases can  

           help ensure healthy wetlands that augment resilience. This panel of science and policy experts will explore that critical    

           connection between Everglades restoration and climate resiliency, and the importance of combating climate change here,

           to protect South Florida now and in the future.


           Dr. Melissa Abdo, Sun Coast Regional Director, National Parks Conservation Association



           Irela Bague, Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce Resilience Committee
           Adriana Brasileiro, Environmental Reporter, Miami Herald
           Dr. Tiffany Troxler, Associate Director of Science, Sea Level Solutions Center, Florida International University 

           Caroline Lewis, Founder and Senior Climate Advisor, CLEO institute

The Digital Everglades: New Media, New Audiences - CLICK HERE to view the presentation

           The Everglades can seem intangible, remote, and even mythical to those living in the adjacent urban areas. For many                    reasons, it is entirely probable that one can live an entire life in Florida’s southern counties and not once set foot in its most

           famous wetlands. In addition to the barriers (geographic, cultural, economic, or otherwise) that prevent people from

           physically accessing the wetlands, there are barriers that prevent them from conceptually accessing them. An ontological

           partition divides “nature,” ensconced somewhere far from the urban center, from everyday life. Embracing the 21st century

           visual and interactive media forms that dominate contemporary communication can help bridge those gaps and      

           foreground the connectivity of the Everglades ecosystem, urban areas, and adjacent ecosystems, like coastal or estuarine

           spaces. These media grant access and provide agency to new audiences that might be otherwise left out of conservation

           discourse. This panel will include artists and new media scholars to discuss the possibilities of leveraging digital content to

           further societal understanding of Everglades restoration and participation in Everglades advocacy.



           Deborah Mitchell, AIRIE (Artists in Residence in Everglades)



           Linda Cheung, CEO and Founder, Before It’s Too Late
           Edyna Garcia-Miguez, Marketing Manager, Everglades Foundation
           Kim Grinfeder, Program Director for Interactive Media, Univeristy of Miami 

           Elite Kedan, Artist and Architect, Alliance of the Southern Triangle (AST)

National Wildlife Refuges: 800,000 Acres in Support of Everglades Restoration - CLICK HERE to view the presentationPlease note only two panelist's featured a power point presentation during this session.

           Florida’s 18 national wildlife refuges, encompassing nearly 800,000 acres, play a significant role in the water quality of              the Greater Everglades. These refuges support the ecologically connected networks of terrestrial, freshwater, coastal, and              marine conservation areas, and conservation priority areas that surround the Everglades. This session will discuss the many            ecological and recreational benefits of national wildlife refuges, including: managing and restoring fish, wildlife and plant            resources; advocating for land protection funding at the federal and state levels; implementing land and water      

           conservation projects; educating over a million visitors per year on the criticality of natural resources; providing      

           recreational opportunities like hunting, fishing, boating, and photography for residents and visitors; stimulating their local

           economies by generating tens of millions of dollars, contributing millions of tax dollars, and supporting hundreds of jobs;

           organizing grassroots support from “Friends” groups and others like Audubon, Sierra, and Defenders of Wildlife to

           influence decision makers; preparing resource maps, studies and reports needed for refuge creation and expansion.


           Dr. Jim Metzler, “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society


           Kathleen Burchett, Refuge Supervisor for Florida and the Caribbean, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

           Dr. Thomas Hoctor, Director, University of Florida Center for Landscape Conservation Planning

           Pauline I. Stacey, Friends of the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge

Regenerative Agriculture, Everglades Restoration, and Climate Resiliency - CLICK HERE to view the presentation.

           Regenerative Agriculture is a system of farming principles and practices that increases biodiversity, enriches soils, improves            watersheds, enhances ecosystem services and captures carbon in soil and above-ground biomass, reversing current global            trends otatmospheric accumulation. Agroecologyisthestudyofincreasingecologicalsustainabilityandsocialjusticeinthefoodand            agriculture system. No matter how much land is ultimately acquired for restoration, the remaining agricultural land can and            must be, sooner than later, managed in a regenerative, just and equitable, rather than traditional, manner. In this way, in.              addition to improving the health of the ecosystem and the quality of life for those who work on it, agricultural land, and                those who farm it, can be protected against development threats.


           Paul McCullough, Sierra Club


           Stephanie Anderson, Florida Atlantic University, Author of “One Size Fits None”
           J. Antonia Tovar-Aguilar, Ph.D, Florida Association of Farmworkers
           Andrew Martino, Global Organics / Brazil Green Cane Project
           Dr. Jennifer Taylor, Owner of Lola’s Organic Farm and Organic Farmers Association

Funding and Leadership to Expedite Restoration - CLICK HERE to view the presentationPlease note only two panelists featured a power point presentation during this plenary.

          This year marks the 20th anniversary of Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) authorization, yet progress to             restore America’s Everglades has not kept pace with the ambitious effort outlined in 2000. Slowed by chronic              

          underfunding, CERP projects have failed to deliver timely ecosystem benefits that are desperately needed. 2019 saw a    

          resurgence of support for CERP that led to the most robust state and federal funding levels in decades. Spurred to urgent

          action by a combination of factors impacting Florida’s environment, economy, and public health (including toxic algae      

          blooms, red tide, seagrass die-offs, and widespread species decline) bipartisan leaders came together support $200M for

          CERP in the federal budget. As a result of this significant investment, the Army Corps was able to shorten project timelines

          for many critical efforts, including the Everglades Agricultural Area Reservoir. However, one year of strong funding alone

          cannot restore the Everglades. State and federal leaders must prioritize sustained, high-level funding every year to bring

          CERP across the finish line. This expert panel will discuss funding in FY20 and beyond, and highlight the leadership

          needed to restore America’s Everglades.


          Jessie Ritter, National Wildlife Federation


          Capt. Daniel Andrews, Executive Director, Captains for Clean Water
          Drew Bartlett, Executive Director, South Florida Water Management District
          Wes Brooks, Ph.D., Legislative Assistant, Office of U.S. Senator Marco Rubio
          Shannon Estenoz, Vice President of Policy and Public Affairs, Everglades Foundation
          Tim Murphy, Deputy District Engineer, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District

The (Small) Business of Restoration - CLICK HERE to view the presentation

          Everglades restoration is instrumental to Florida’s economy. After all, our environment is our economy, driving tourism      

          and underpinning agriculture and fishing, among other industries. While such broad statements are widely accepted, it is

          imperative to concretize the benefits of Everglades restoration to individual small businesses. Small businesses are important

          – they contribute to local economies, create more unified communities, and preserve or create ties to place. Small

          businesses that depend on the Everglades ecosystem for water, tourism dollars, or other benefits should have a seat at the

          table as conservation and restoration policies are discussed. Additionally, highlighting the value of Everglades restoration

          to the small business community reinforces the necessary truth that Everglades restoration provides both ecosystem and

          communal benefits. Panelists representingseveral small businesses and business leaders from South Florida will discuss the

          impact of Everglades restoration to the economy and to individual businesses, methods for collaborating with environmental

          organizations to advocate on behalf of their interests, and ways of communicating the connectivity between the Everglades

          and the small business sector to the public.


          Laura Aguirre, Audubon Florida


          Capt. Benny Blanco, President, Everglades Guides Association
          Tiffany Esposito, President and CEO, Bonita Springs Area Chamber of Commerce

          Valerie Tutor, Realtor, Kingfisher Real Estate, Inc.
          Capt. Charles Wright, President, Everglades Area Tours

The Road to Everglades Restoration is... Not Paved: How Oil, Residential, and Toll Road Development Threaten the Western Everglades - CLICK HERE to view the presentation

          Oil exploration projects, new residential development, and a massive toll road threaten the headwaters of the western Ever-

          glades. At the center of the onslaught is a hunt for oil in the western Everglades’ Big Cypress National Preserve which has             caused extensive damage to high-quality wetlands and critical Florida panther habitat. Attempts to minimize, restore or                 mitigate wetland damage caused by new oil exploration have not been successful thus far. Future oil exploration and                   extraction could worsen that damage and potentially threaten the quality of surface and ground water in the Preserve.                   Meanwhile, efforts are underway to expand sprawling development in the region, further degrading and fragmenting

          habitat and impacting hydrology.


          Alison Kelly, Natural Resources Defense Council


          Dr. Melissa Abdo, Sun Coast Regional Director, National Parks Conservation Association

          Amber Crooks, Environmental Policy Manager, Conservancy of Southwest Florida
          John Meyer, Wetland Scientist

Seagrass: The Regrowth of Florida’s Natural Infrastructure - We do not have any of the presentation's from this session. Please check back later for updates. We apologize for any inconvenience this my cause. 

           Following mass die-out, Florida’s seagrass beds have begun to vanish and, along with it, one of Florida’s greatest natural

           weapons for improving water quality. Yet, the restoration of seagrass is often overlooked. Seagrasses are a vital part of the

           marine ecosys- tem due to their productivity level. They also provide habitats and nurseries to hundreds of species of flora

           and fauna, making not only the seagrasses vulnerable to the effects of climate change and diminishing water quality, but

           also a diverse population of species. In this discussion about Florida’s natural infrastructure, panelists explore the ability to

           improve water quality and aquatic habitats through the protection and restoration of Florida’s seagrasses and restoration

           project implementation and what can be expected in the future.


           Brett Fitzgerald, Angler Action Foundation


           David Ceilley, Senior Aquatic Ecologist, Johnson Engineering
           Heather Fitzenhagen, Florida House of Representatives, District 78
           Dr. Paul Gray, Everglades Science Coordinator, Audubon Florida
           Jennifer Hecker, Executive Director, Coastal and Heartland National Estuary Partnership