Thursday, July 09, 2015

Is it dead? Plans for an international aviation show in the middle of the Everglades may have fallen off the Mayor Gimenez' table ... by gimleteye

Fox Latino News reports the demise of one of the worst ideas to emerge from Carlos Gimenez' administration: an international airshow at the site of the former Everglades Jetport in the middle of Big Cypress National Preserve. The existing airstrip is used only for training purposes, but according to reports the deputy mayor, Jack Osterholt, helped persuade the mayor it was a good idea. The mayor and his entourage, on a recent visit to the Paris International Air Show, were loaded to pitch the world's aviation industry: come to the Everglades, far from everything, and help us wreck more of it.

It may be that a raft of bad publicity leading up to the Paris junket, including from our blog ("Failure to Launch: The Paris Air Show, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez, and the Plan to put a major North American Air Show in the Middle of Big Cypress Preserve", June 11, 2015) and an in-depth investigative report by Miami New Times, put a kibosh on the indefensible scheme. It may also be that Mayor Gimenez began to realize why poking environmentally sensitive voters at this time was ill-advised politics.

For whatever reason, I am pleased if the idea dies of its own weight. Marshaling resources for legal battles on environmental issues is a thankless task. Would another battle over aviation in the Everglades have galvanized donors? Probably, but there are so many pressing reasons to fight government that will not follow its own environmental laws and regulations. This particular battle felt like picking at an old scar.

Officials scrap plans for controversial air show in Everglades
Published July 08, 2015EFE
By Emilio J. Lopez.

The threat posed by a biennial air show to the Everglades, the largest and most important wetlands area in the United States, is fading in the wake of Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez's announcement Wednesday that he would seek another site for the event.

The plan to stage an air show in the Big Cypress National Preserve mobilized environmentalists and Everglades advocates, who are committed to protecting the vital wetlands from further human encroachment.

Gimenez said in March that he was "exploring" the possibility of staging an international air show at the site of an airport in the Big Cypress whose proposed construction set off an environmental battle in the 1960s.

The plan to hold an Everglades air show, with the event styled after the famous air show in Paris, has now finally run out of steam.

The mayor has instructed the Miami-Dade Aviation Department to "explore the possibility of holding the event at the Homestead Air Reserve Base instead of at the Dade-Collier Training and Transition Airport," the department's communications director, John Heffernan, told EFE.

The old Everglades Jetport site, now known as the Dade-Collier Training and Transition Airport, or TNT, is in the heart of the Big Cypress.

Only one airstrip was built at the Big Cypress site and it now sits alone in an area originally expected to house an airport sprawling over 101 sq. kilometers (39 sq. miles).

Under pressure from environmentalists, President Richard Nixon's administration helped broker a deal in 1970 that blocked the Everglades Jetport project, whose construction would have devastated the delicate subtropical ecosystem.

Environmental groups, including Audubon Florida, praised the change in plans announced by Gimenez.

"We support the mayor's decision to not use the Big Cypress as a place to hold an air show and to keep it away from the Everglades, which have already suffered enough. This is the right way to go," Audubon Florida environmental policy director Celeste De Palma told EFE.

Environmentalists feared the negative effects the air show would have on the Everglades, a wetlands system that has been reduced in size dramatically by the encroachment of South Florida's large cities.

The Glades, home to alligators and other wildlife, continue to be threatened by pollution from "bad agricultural practices" and "unchecked urban development, climate change and rising sea levels," De Palma said.

Everglades National Park was named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1976; an International Biosphere Reserve, along with Dry Tortugas National Park, that same year; and a Wetland of International Importance in 1987. EFE

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Gimenez is smart. He does not want to pick a fight with the environmentalists one year before his reelection. If he is reelected (God forbid) in August of 2016,he will complte the total destruction of Miami-Dade County he started in 2012. The airport in the Everglades will be the flavor of the month in September of 2016.