In order to restore the Everglades ecosystem, the state and federal governments must acquire lands to be used for water storage and conveyance. Everglades Law Center attorneys work in partnership with other non-profit members of the Everglades Coalition to advocate for storage and restoration. Additionally, we work with state and federal agencies to ensure that current and planned Everglades restoration projects are implemented to the best possible benefit of wildlife and natural systems.
Wetlands & Water Resource Protection
Wetlands are a major part of the South Florida Ecosystem. Yet, despite the federal and state "No Net Loss" mandate in the late 1980s, wetland loss continues to be a major issue facing south Florida. ELC attorneys have significant experience as litigators and advocates in advancing wetlands protections. Our practice includes challenging the issuance of major dredge and fill projects under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act and environmental resource permits under state law, which could undermine Everglades restoration objectives. ELC also works with its clients and partners in advancing legislative and regulatory improvements to federal and state wetland permitting policies.
Land Use & Sustainability
Unsustainable land use practices continue to be a major threat to the environment. A recent study finds that if Florida maintains its current development pace, roughly 7 million acres will be converted to urban use by 2060. Of these lands, 2.6 million acres of native habitat, an area the size of Vermont will be lost.
ELC utilizes litigation and advocacy to advance sustainable land use practices and protect the greater Everglades ecosystem. Specifically, our work focuses on advancing the connectivity of Lake Okeechobee to the Southern Everglades by challenging incompatible uses in the Everglades Agricultural Area (such as mining and intense industrial development), challenging major developments that threaten water quality and wildlife habitat in the Kissimmee River basin, and challenging land uses that would serve as obstacles to implementation of Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) projects.
We vigorously oppose and litigate attempts by local governments to weaken their land use regulations and move their urban service boundaries. We also challenge land use proposals, such as rock mining and new roads, which threaten to compromise Everglades restoration.
Endangered Species & Wildlife
Florida is home to more than 100 federally listed species as well as nearly 120 state listed species. ELC attorneys take a comprehensive and integrated approach to listed species recovery by ensuring that endangered species needs are considered at all levels of government decision-making (federal, state, and local). This includes litigation under the Endangered Species Act, advancing federal and state policy initiatives that aid in the recovery of protected species, and working with clients to create local land use controls that provide greater protections for listed species.
ELC works tirelessly to protect federal and state listed species throughout Florida. ELC’s General Counsel Jason Totoiu has significant experience litigating and advocating on behalf of endangered and threatened species throughout the Southeastern United States and much of his work at ELC is focused on wildlife conservation issues.
Public Lands Protection
Florida has nearly 10 million acres of public lands. These lands include National Parks, National Wildlife Refuges, state parks and preserves, and state and locally funded conservation areas. Unfortunately, these lands are under increasing development pressure by private companies and more recently, by local governments. ELC attorneys have significant experience in advocating for sound planning and management practices in our national parks and wildlife refuges, protecting state parklands from encroaching development, and ensuring that local conservation areas remain in conservation.