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Bullsugar merged with Friends of the Everglades

The Bullsugar Alliance, the nonpolitical arm of Bullsugar.org, has merged with the Friends of the Everglades, an environmental group started 50 years ago by Marjory Stoneman Douglas, author of “The Everglades: River of Grass.”

The merged entity is retaining the name Friends of the Everglades and will continue to work in partnership with Bullsugar.org, said Alex Gillen, formerly policy director for the Bullsugar Alliance and newly named Friends executive director.

The merger of the Miami-based Friends and the Treasure Coast-based Alliance will help “unite the north and the south ends” of the greater Everglades ecosystem to help solve the overall environmental problems, Gillen told TCPalm Wednesday morning.” — Tyler Treadway / Treasure Coast Newspapers / June 5, 2019: Bullsugar Alliance, nonpolitical wing of bullsugar.org, merges with Friends of Everglades

Douglas was a freelance writer who submitted stories to magazines throughout the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s. Her friend Hervey Allen was an editor at Rinehart, responsible for the Rivers of America Series. Allen asked her to write a story about the Miami River, but Douglas did not find it very interesting, calling it only “an inch long”. She began learning more about the Miami River though, and in her research, she instead suggested to her editor to write a story about the Everglades. Douglas spent five years researching the Everglades, consulting with Garald Parker of the US Geological Survey, who was studying the Everglades hydrology systems, and eventually wrote nearly 40 papers on the ecosystems in the Everglades. The Everglades: River of Grass was published the same year as the formal opening of Everglades National Park, the book was a call to attention about the degrading quality of life in the Everglades and remains an influential book on nature conservation as well as a reference for information on South Florida.

Friends was founded in 1969 in Miami by author Marjory Stoneman Douglas to protect the Everglades from a plan to build a major jetport in the middle of the Everglades.

Friends has been at the of vanguard federal litigation protecting water quality in the Everglades, resulting in a 2012 state commitment to invest nearly $1 billion in badly needed infrastructure to cleanse polluted water. Its educational outreach program in Miami-Dade County has reached tens of thousands of students.

Bullsugar Alliance supported the work of Bullsugar.org, best known for its clean water voter guides and leadership in the Now or Neverglades effort. Since Bullsugar.org was founded in 2014, statewide awareness of the sugar industry’s role in blocking efforts to end toxic discharges and send clean water to the Everglades has grown. In 2018, six of seven gubernatorial candidates pledged to refuse sugar industry money because of its corrupting influence on water policy. Through its weekly online newsletter, Bullsugar has generated the largest social media presence among conservation groups in Florida.

The merged C3 entity is retaining the name Friends of the Everglades, and will continue to work in partnership with Bullsugar.org. The merged board announces the appointment of Alex Gillen as executive director. Previously, Mr. Gillen served as policy director for the Bullsugar Alliance and as professional staff on the U.S. House Appropriations Committee.

“We are honored by the new affiliation”, said Bullsugar.org board president Chris Maroney. “There is no greater validation of our work than to partner with the stewards of Marjory’s legacy. We look forward to continuing to build political will to save the greater Everglades ecosystem, including the northern estuaries, backstopped by the science and policy expertise of Friends of the Everglades.”

Our founder, Marjory Stoneman Douglas, wrote ‘[t]here is only one Everglades in the world’ and despite decades of attention and investment in restoration, there remains much more work to be done to keep it. Friends of the Everglades will be significantly strengthened through this merger and extending our focus to Florida’s embattled St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee watersheds and we look forward to amplifying our voice in a way that is forceful and uncompromising for the Everglades. Just as Marjory would have wanted.” — Philip Kushlan, Friends of the Everglades board president

You can read more about Douglas in the New Yorker: What Marjory Stoneman Douglas Understood About the Fight for What Is Right / By Amy Davidson Sorkin / New Yorker Magazine / February 14, 2019 – may require subscription

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