top of page
Artwork Green.png
38th Annual Everglades Coalition Conference
January 26-28, 2023
Ft. Lauderdale Marriott Coral Springs

January 26


6:00pm – 7:30pm
Opening Reception
Bonefish & Tarpon Trust.png
Hosted by


January 27

8:00am – 9:00am
Hosted by
Guest Speaker – Benny Blanco, Flats Fishing Guide
9:00am - 10:15am
Playing Defense: Protecting the Remaining Habitat and Watershed of the Everglades
  • Mayor Daniella Levine-Cava, Mayor, Miami-Dade County

  • Adam Gelber, Director of the Office of Everglades Restoration Initiatives, U.S. Department of the Interior

  • Eve Samples, Executive Director, Friends of the Everglades

  • Terrance "Rock" Salt, Tropical Audubon Society Board of Directors and former Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Army for Civil Works,

Moderated by Elizabeth Fata Carpenter, Managing Attorney, Everglades Law Center
While the state and federal governments are making significant investments to advance Everglades restoration, local governments are developing away our remaining habitat and watershed recharge areas across the Greater Everglades. Throughout South Florida, development is being fast-tracked as highway and energy development and urban sprawl continue to rule the day. Though Floridians consistently value preservation – and show that commitment clearly at the polls when given the opportunity to vote on conservation issues on the ballot – local leaders continue to side with developers, shunning the voices of environmental and community advocates pleading to slow sprawl development in favor of a more conservation-minded and thoughtful vision for our state’s future. This panel will overview several timely development threats and discuss strategies to shift to a culture of conservation.
10:30am – 11:45am
From Planning to Reality: Status Report on Restoration Progress
  • Drew Bartlett, Executive Director, South Florida Water Management District

  • Col. James Booth, District Commander, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District

  • Dr. Steve Davis, Chief Science Officer, The Everglades Foundation

  • Curtis Osceola, Chief of Staff, Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida

  • Dr. Melodie Naja, Director, U.S. National Park Service - South Florida Natural Resources Center​​


Moderated by Marisa Carrozzo, Senior Coastal and Wildlife Program Manager, National Parks Conservation Association
Recent years have seen a number of long-awaited restoration efforts take significant strides forward – and not a moment too soon. Restoration of the Kissimmee River is now complete, and a number of Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) and related restoration efforts across the Greater Everglades are near-complete and delivering on incremental benefits to improve water flow and habitat functionality. This session will highlight several projects across the Greater Everglades, and panelists will overview the ecosystem issues they were intended to address, status of construction/operations, ecosystem benefits seen to date, and lessons learned through project planning and implementation that can help improve future restoration efforts here in the Everglades and in other ecosystems nationwide in the years ahead.
12:00pm – 1:15pm
Hosted by
Ding Darling Wildlife Society (40 Years).png
Keynote Speaker – Honorable Michael Connor, Assistant Secretary of the Army, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
1:30pm – 2:30pm
Future Leader Roundtable
  • Lukas Lamb-Wotton, Florida International University

  • Providence Pangira, Bethune Cookman University

  • Lauren Novorska, University of Miami

  • Selina Nadeau, Stetson University College of Law

Moderated by Reinaldo Diaz, Waterkeeper & President, Lake Worth Waterkeeper
In this special session, we invite a number of this year's Everglades Coalition scholarship recipients to join a moderated discussion about the future of Everglades protection and restoration. Students will share insight about their conservation priorities, concerns, outlook, and any research they may be undertaking in their studies. The session will culminate in asking each student to share their ideas about how the Everglades community can better engage the next generation of ecosystem stewards to learn, explore, and advocate. This session will allow conference attendees to gain the insight of new and diverse perspectives on issues that our community has worked on for decades. We hope this session will leave conference attendees hopeful about the future, and with new ideas and strategies to engage with students and youth advocates.
2:45pm – 3:45pm
Opportunities Abound: A Look at the Northern Everglades
  • Eva Velez, Chief, Ecosystem Branch, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

  • Jennifer Reynolds, Director of Ecosystem Restoration and Capital Projects, South Florida Water Management District

  • Ed Smith, Director - Office of Ecosystem Projects, Florida Department of Environmental Protection

  • Benita Whalen, Water & Environmental Manager, Florida Cattleman's Association

Moderated by Dr. Paul Gray, Science Coordinator, Everglades Restoration, Audubon Florida
LOSOM has put into very clear focus that in order to reach system-wide water management goals, we have to develop better plans for the Everglades Headwaters, the 2.6 million acres north of the Lake. Lake Okeechobee suffers from harmful algae blooms, declining SAV coverage, and loss of bird and fish populations because it is treated more as a reservoir rather than an ecosystem. As LOSOM comes online and we provide relief to the estuaries and send more water south, we also must think critically about how to develop more upstream water storage and treatment opportunities. Huge reservoirs and STAs have been a problematic fit in two different LORWP formulations. This watershed has its own characteristics and needs. This discussion will focus on the northern Everglades with an eye toward watershed-wide restoration with distributed water storage, public/private partnerships, the Central Florida Water Initiative, payment for environmental services, conservation easements, wildlife corridors, smaller STAs where strategic, and more.
4:00pm – 5:00pm
Everglades Restoration and Wildlife Corridors
  • Amber Crooks, Environmental Policy Manager, Conservancy of Southwest Florida

  • Mallory Dimmitt, CEO, Florida Wildlife Corridor Foundation

  • Dr. Joshua Daskin, Director of Conservation, Archbold Biological Station

Moderated by Sarah Gledhill, Vice President, Florida Wildlife Federation
Much of Florida’s biodiversity is dependent on a preserved and restored Everglades. An intact, functioning habitat is key to species persistence and recovery. This panel will assemble scientists and policy experts who will illustrate just how important Everglades restoration is for the continued existence of some of Florida’s most beloved wildlife, like the Florida panther and Florida black bear. The panel will explore how the recently passed Florida Wildlife Corridor Act will benefit biodiversity, wildlife corridors, and the Everglades.
5:30pm – 6:30pm
Hosted by
South Florida Water Management District.png
6:45pm – 8:45pm
Hosted by
Conservancy of Southwest Florida Vertical.JPG
Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation.png
Keynote Speaker – Wes Brooks, Chief Resilience Officer for the State of Florida
Grassroots Activism Award Presented to Tropical Audubon Society


January 28

8:00am – 9:00am
Hosted by
National Audubon Society.png
Guest Speaker – Charles Lee, Director of Advocacy, Audubon Florida +
Julie Wraithmell, Executive Director, Audubon Florida
9:00am – 10:15am
Climate Change Perils of Wildlife Management Plans
  • Brad Cornell, Southwest Florida Policy Associate, Audubon Western Everglades

  • Craig van der Heiden, Director of the Miccosukee Fish & Wildlife Department, Miccosukee Tribe CEO of IRC

  • Kim Dinkins, Senior Conservation Associate, Save the Manatee Club

  • Larry O. Williams, State Supervisor, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Moderated by Jaclyn Lopez, Professor, Clinic Director, Stetson University
Tipping points (thresholds) in the climate system when exceeded can necessitate vital changes in wildlife management plans for the survival of species managed by federal, state or county agencies. Resistance to understanding the increasingly rapid climate changes with forecasts of possible subsequent losses and irreversible damages spells peril for many species who call the Everglades ecosystem home. The hidden drivers of each management plan along with policies and current legislation specifically involving climate change will be key issues in this session. Wildlife management plans cannot exist without affecting in some manner another life system (from soil/water microbes to mega fauna); consequently, connecting ecological chains that link various wildlife recovery plans may be discussed. Negative feedback loops and urban sprawl which can exacerbate climate perils should be considered for future implications. Future policy changes and their consequences can be addressed in the question/answer period. Unforeseen outcomes might be imagined in the closing statements from each panelist.
  • Shannon Estenoz, Assistant Secretary for Fish, Wildlife, and Parks, U.S. Department of the Interior

  • Capt. Daniel Andrews, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Captains for Clean Water

  • Secretary Shawn Hamilton, Florida Department of Environmental Protection

  • Julie Hill-Gabriel, Vice President, Water Conservation, National Audubon Society

Moderated by Cara Capp, Senior Everglades Program Manager, National Parks Conservation Association
Over the past decade, state and federal funding for Everglades restoration more than tripled from a combined $150M in 2012 to over $650M in 2022. For years, the Everglades community watched in distress as we fell further and further behind on key restoration projects, and projections about how long it would take to complete the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) became more distant with each new budget cycle. Yet the past few years have brought renewed hope and opportunity to the Everglades, with not only record-setting state and federal annual appropriations, but an additional national investment of over $1 billion from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to complete key projects like the Indian River Lagoon C23/24 Reservoir, Broward County Water Preserve Area C-11 Impoundment, and the Central Everglades Planning Project S-356 Pump Station. What were the successful strategies that led to this historic level of funding – and political support – that has fundamentally changed the pace of Everglades restoration? This panel will overview the historical perspective of how CERP began, the ups and downs along the way, lessons learned, and what still needs to be accomplished in the years ahead if we hope to truly protect and restore America’s Everglades.
10:30am – 11:45am
Making of a Watershed Moment
12:00pm – 1:15pm
Hosted by
Family Lands Remembered.png
Keynote Speaker – Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz
Public Service Award Presented to Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz
  • Rev. Houston R. Cypress, Otter Clan, Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida

  • Dr. Suzana Blake, Research Associate, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

  • Derek Boyd Hankerson, Producer, Two Tail Productions

Moderated by David Riera, FEF McKnight & FIU DEI Doctoral Fellow, Florida International University
The Everglades Coalition's Equity and Community Engagement Committee is thrilled to host a panel at this year's Everglades Coalition Conference. Our focus this year is Stories of Sustainability: Protecting Our Waters and the Communities They Sustain. We often discuss the ecological, economic, and recreational impacts of our greater Everglades work, but our panelists will share stories from the perspective of the interdependencies between Everglades Restoration projects and their own community sustainability.
1:30pm – 2:30pm
Stories of Sustainability: Protecting Our Waters and the Communities They Sustain
  • Jaclyn Lopez, Professor of Law, Stetson University

  • Jason Totoiu, Senior Attorney, Center for Biological Diversity

  • Ansley Samson, General Counsel, Everglades Law Center

  • Tania Galloni, Managing Attorney, Florida Office, Earthjustice

Moderator by Edward Randall Ornstein, Office of the General Counsel, Staff Attorney, Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida
Effectively protecting the Everglades depends on rigorous governmental oversight at both the state and federal levels, as well as robust public participation. Several efforts are underway to rollback federal safeguards that are vital tools for Everglades advocates and supporters. This panel will address rollbacks to federal permitting protections, attempts to modify federal environmental protections and cases of interest at the U.S. Supreme Court.
2:45pm – 3:45pm
Navigating Current Threats to Federal Protections
4:00pm – 5:00pm
Tragedies & Triumphs: Addressing the Everglades Biodiversity Crisis
  • George Gann, Executive Director, International Policy Lead, Institute for Regional Conservation

  • Elise Bennett, Florida Director, Center for Biological Diversity

  • Dr. Rachel Silverstein, Executive Director, Miami Waterkeeper

  • Mary Peterson, Endangered Species Recovery Biologist, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Moderated by Moderated by Alisa Coe, Senior Attorney, Earthjustice
This panel will feature some of the most charismatic – and imperiled – plants and animals that rely on the greater Everglades ecosystem. The grasshopper sparrow, once at the precipice of extinction is on a path to recovery. Creatures, like the Florida panther and the ghost orchid, are facing critical agency decisions in the next year. Our marine plants and animals are also affected by Everglades restoration – and destruction. This panel will address the urgency of this moment and will highlight experts who are uniquely specialized in addressing these challenges and will share how you can help!
Our Sponsors
6:30pm – 8:30pm
Hosted by
National Parks Conservation Association
Keynote Speaker – Sec. Deb Haaland, U.S. Secretary of the Interior
Conservationist Award Presented to Ansley Samson

Thank You to Our Generous Sponsors!

Florida Bay.png

Florida Bay

Kissimmee Prairie.png
Big Cypress.png

Host Sponsor


Kissimmee Prairie


Big Cypress

National Parks Conservation Association
Conservancy of Southwest Florida PNG.png
Ding Darling Wildlife Society (40 Years).png
Florida Oceanographic Society.gif
National Audubon Society.png
Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation.png
Coastal & Heartland Estuary Partnership.png
Reef Relief.png
Miami Waterkeeper.png
1000 Friends of Florida.jpg
Center For Biological Diversity PNG.png
Everglades Law Center.png
Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership.png
IRC New Logo.png
South Florida Water Management District.png
Friends of the Everglades.png
Bonefish & Tarpon Trust.png
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.png
Family Lands Remembered.png

Letter from Our Co-Chairs

Thank you for joining us in Coral Springs, Florida, for the 38th Annual Everglades Coalition Conference hosted by the National Parks Conservation Association!


On behalf of the Everglades Coalition, we welcome you to the largest event and forum for discussing progress on restoring America’s Everglades. We look forward to a productive, educational, and inspiring conference that promotes dialogue and partnerships that advance our shared goal of a restored Greater Everglades ecosystem.


This year’s conference theme is A Watershed Moment for America’s Everglades. We recognize the incredible opportunity before us to build on the momentum of historic levels of state and federal funding for Everglades restoration. This momentum is critical to achieving the long-awaited benefits of a restored River of Grass. Achieving our shared vision of a restored Everglades requires the combined efforts of our diverse Everglades community, state and federal agency partners, and tribal nations, as well as strong bipartisan leadership to accelerate restoration into the next decade. We are thankful for those who have helped create this path toward restoration and together we must continue to meet the call for America’s Everglades.


May we all rise to this watershed moment, 

Kelly Cox

Audubon Florida

Mark Perry

Florida Oceanographic Society


Grassroots Activism

 Tropical Audubon Society 


The Tropical Audubon staff, along with other organizations like Hold the Line Coalition and Everglades Law Center, has demonstrated grassroots leadership this year through their efforts to oppose the expansion of the Urban Development Boundary in Miami Dade County. While it is difficult to recognize just one group in this effort, Tropical's staff have stepped up to the plate in organizing members of the Everglades Coalition to get involved in order to present a collective voice against UDB expansion. These efforts contributed to a mayoral veto and statements in opposition to urban sprawl, including from Senator Marco Rubio. The grassroots organizing efforts have also contributed to a reduction in size of the proposed project by nearly half. While there is still an uphill battle facing these groups on the ground, Tropical Audubon's success in mobilizing the community in defense of the Everglades is worth recognizing this year.

Public Service

 U.S. Representative Debbie 


The unprecedented announcement of $1.1 billion in federal Everglades funding included in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) in 2022 marks the single largest investment in Everglades restoration in America’s history. This amount of funding has fast-tracked key restoration efforts and elevated the entire CERP program. As the Coalition considers our conference program and awards for the coming year, we must acknowledge and celebrate this victory. As a longstanding leader on U.S. House Committee on Appropriations, and Co-Chair of the Congressional Everglades Caucus, Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz was a key voice in elevating CERP funding among national conversations about infrastructure spending. She worked closely with EVCO advocates both in DC and Florida to coordinate strategy in support of this tremendous funding request and directed her policy staff to prioritize Everglades restoration as her top issue on the Appropriations Committee. While we are fortunate to have an entire Congressional Delegation that stands united in support of Everglades restoration, Congresswoman Wasserman-Schultz stands out as someone who actively works to elevate the CERP program and leverage her national leadership position to bring funding and policy change to fast-track South Florida ecosystem restoration. She is also a longstanding supporter of coral reef restoration and opponent of offshore oil drilling. NPCA believes it would be very fitting to honor Rep. Wasserman-Schultz at this year’s event, especially given the conference location in Broward County. This would be a great way to not only acknowledge her ongoing leadership for the Everglades, but also to continue to draw attention to and celebrate the $1.1 billion infrastructure investment that many of our organizations advocated to secure this year.


 Ansley Samson 

Ms. Samson currently serves as counsel for Everglades Law Center and specializes in Everglades restoration work, focusing on legal issues related to fisheries, water policy, and endangered species. Prior to her work at ELC, she has held legal advocacy positions with the Natural Resources Defense Council, Earthjustice, and the Southern Environmental Law Center. Ms. Samson has an uncommon tenacity to fight for the greater good and hold government and polluters accountable when necessary and is one of the most committed conservationists around.


Hosted by

Everglades 101

View our Everglades 101 session in both English and Spanish for a quick overview of Everglades Restoration.

Everglades 101 Thumbnail.png
bottom of page