As the Lake Okeechobee green algae debate continues, it can be difficult to decipher the truth from misinformation. A debate that has now become a national news story has been decades in the making. The same arguments from north and south of the lake have been made throughout the debate’s history. One local group is fighting for the Glades community south of the lake, urging the public to look toward the science of this situation to learn the truth. Tammy Jackson-Moore, co-founder of Guardians of the Glades, believes if the public searched out the science, its views may change.
Jackson-Moore says that the Glades community has worked hard over the past 20 years to contribute to cleaning up the environment. She says the community cleaned up its septic tanks and has given up hundreds of acres of land in the name of Everglades restoration, which meant closing several sugar mills and packing facilities. “When you talk about closing down those employers, you talk about employees being displaced,” she says.
Since the community has done a lot to help keep the Glades area and Lake Okeechobee clean, the Guardians of the Glades aim to start a new conversation. According to Jackson-Moore, the main goal of the group is to focus the algae conversation on the scientific data rather than speculation. She says people are focused on the end product, the toxic water, when people should really focus on the water’s beginnings, which come from north of the lake from the Kissimmee River Basin. “If we want to talk about fixing the problem, we need to talk about fixing the entire problem, not just a portion of it,” she says.
Jackson-Moore believes that the debate needs to be on solutions for keeping the water to the north clean, before it flows into Lake Okeechobee, rather than a debate on where the water is even coming from. “If you follow the science, I think you will see that the contributing factors to the algae are coming from north of Lake Okeechobee. When we have this issue of everyone pointing fingers, it causes people to get defensive. When people are defensive, you never get down to identifying solutions,” she concludes.
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