February 8, 2022 Newsletter

What did Biscayne Bay say as it Welcomed the New Year?

Nothing, it just waved!

Last week, we welcomed new leadership for our Board of Trustees. On February 1st, Gregory Frankel, a Miami native who has seen firsthand the changes in Biscayne Bay and who is committed to preserving the Bay and surrounding waterways for future generations, succeeded David and Maria Schwedel as Chair. The Schwedels founded the Board of Trustees and have served as close advisors to our organization over the past six years. We are incredibly grateful to them for their outstanding leadership and are thrilled they will be staying on as members of the Board of Trustees. Read more about their impact on our work here.

Take Action

Protect the Everglades and our drinking water by Holding the Line to ensure a resilient future.

For decades, Miami-Dade has protected a boundary line to stop urban sprawl into the Everglades. This line, called the Urban Development Boundary, is one of the best tools we have to protect the valuable habitat and our drinking water. But it's under attack.

The Urban Development Boundary is a crucial planning tool that protects our drinking water, it protects the Everglades, it protects Biscayne Bay - and it ensures that we’re not overdeveloping and creating too much density without enough green space or the infrastructure to support it."

-Dr. Rachel Silverstein on WLRN

Here are two ways you can be part of our community's resiliency efforts by Holding the Line:

1. Say NO to changing the Comprehensive Development Master Plan

After a wave of nearly 600 advocates took action to Hold the Line by asking commissioners not to change the County's master plan, the vote was delayed because the committee meeting lacked a quorum. Proposed changes would make it easier to move the Urban Development Boundary, so we're taking advantage of this voting delay by encouraging even more members of the community to take action with us. Click here to learn about the issue and contact the committee.

2. Say NO to the proposed industrial complex

A proposed 800-acre industrial complex threatens to breach the Urban Development Boundary, making it a threat to Biscayne Bay, resiliency against sea level rise, and our drinking water. You can tell the County Commission to vote NO on the project by clicking here.


Protect Florida's Wetlands

Florida's wetlands are under threat, as some wetlands no longer have federal protections. We're working with Earthjustice and a coalition of environmental organizations across the state to restore wetlands protections through litigation. Click here to contact Florida's federal representatives to tell them to urge the EPA to reinstate these protections to protect Florida's critical wetlands.


Defend Your Right to Know What's in Your Water

Our friends at Calusa Waterkeeper are spearheading efforts to advocate for transparency about what's in your water. The state of Florida is not currently required to inform us about high levels of fecal indicator bacteria - meaning we have no idea if the water we're swimming in could make us sick!

The Safe Waterways Act is proposed legislation that would provide more consistent public health advisories. Thanks to existing advocacy efforts, the bill will be heard in Committee - but we're not done yet. We still need to make our voices heard to continue pushing this bill through the legislative process. You can learn more about this issue and tell our state representatives to pass the Safe Waterways Act:

  • Click here to contact the Committee on Environment and Natural Resources.
  • Click here to contact the House Sub-Committee for Professions and Public Health.

You can also check our local water quality by viewing your favorite waterways on SwimGuide.



We Need Your Help to Keep Manatees Safe During the Miami International Boat Show

While the Miami International Boat Show is an important community event, manatees use the boat show staging area frequently this time of year. An estimated 650 boat slips are being installed in an area designated as essential for manatees. County staff recommended not having sea trials - or boat test drives - during the show. However, the County Commissioners didn't listen - and they approved sea trials anyway.

We have been leading efforts to send letters to regulatory agencies, join with our partners at Center for Biological Diversity and Tropical Audobon. We are pleased to report that the number of slips are reduced and the routes for sea trials will be limited to just one route now, but we still have concerns about the imperiled manatees - especially after our friends at Clean This Beach Up sent over videos of manatees swimming in the location where the temporary docks are being built. To read more about the issue, read our letters, and learn how you can join us in protecting manatees, click here.


If you spot manatees in the area, take photos to report them via our pollution report form. We will pass along the information to regulatory agencies, so they know the impact of this event.



1,000 Eyes on the Water: Your Reports Stop Pollution

Would you know to report this?

Thankfully, a member of the community knew this meant something was wrong and submitted a report! We forwarded the sighting to the City of Miami Beach, who responded immediately by sending out a team to discover that the issue was a sewage block. The response team cleared the block and sanitized the street - and then checked back the next day to ensure no issues lingered. Kudos to the community reporter who made this response possible, and thank you for keeping your eyes on the water!

Want to know what you should report? Take our one-hour online 1,000 Eyes on the Water training to find out.


Junior Ambassadors

Our Junior Ambassadors practiced identifying and engaging various stakeholders on key issues during a virtual training. To read more about what they learned, click here.


Enrichment Days with Project T.H.U.G. and Breakthrough Miami

Last month, we hosted enrichment days for youth in Project T.H.U.G. and Breakthrough Miami. You can read all about what these future environmentalists learned here and here.

Youth in Project T.H.U.G. explored life in the Bay with an underwater drone, donated by the Wildlife Conservation Society.


Citizen Science Project: Miami Plastic Patrol

A group of Junior Ambassadors, staff, and community members joined the Miami Plastic Patrol as citizen scientists after learning about the harms of microplastics and how to sample and analyze plastics around Biscayne Bay. The workshop was part of doctoral candidate Melinda Paduani's research, which seeks to inform how much plastic is actually in Biscayne Bay. Read more about the workshop and how to join the Miami Plastic Patrol as a citizen scientist who contributes data to Melinda's research by clicking here.


Everglades Coalition Conference

Dr. Rachel Silverstein spoke about Miami's Bay Back Study and the importance of using green infrastructure for community resiliency at the Everglades Coalition Conference. You can read more about the importance of green infrastructure here.


Our Comments on SFWMD Plans for Sea Level Rise Readiness

We reviewed the South Florida Water Management District's draft plan to address the impacts of rising sea levels, extreme weather events, and changing rainfall and flood patterns and provided comments, emphasizing nature-based solutions within each iteration of the plan. To read our full letter to the South Florida Water Management District, click here.


In the News

  • What is your New Year's resolution? Our Waterkeeper shared how she would change Miami in 2022 in Miami New Times. Click here to read more.



  • Florida's waters choke on fertilizer, dead fish and red tides. Miami native and Washington Post Contributing Columnist Lizette Alvarez spoke to Dr. Rachel Silverstein for this opinion article. Click here to read more.


  • NOAA Study finds lethal stony coral disease can hide in sand and spread infection. Dr. Rachel Silverstein connects the dots between between the results of a NOAA study and the PortMiami dredging project's lethal impact on corals. Click here to read more and listen on WLRN.


  • Florida has lost miles of seagrass. A new bill would make it easier to build over those meadows. Dr. Rachel Silverstein points out that we need to address the root issue of why seagrass is dying, not just fix the symptoms of the dying seagrass. Click here to read more at WLRN.


  • FPL wants injection wells at Turkey Point. It could also help Miami-Dade’s wastewater woes. Dr. Rachel Silverstein comments on the missed opportunity for wastewater to be used for restoring Biscayne Bay. Click here to read more in The Miami Herald.


  • A plan to make it easier to move the Urban Development Boundary? Dr. Rachel Silverstein points out issues with the County's plan to make it easier to build in open spaces; it puts our Bay and drinking water at risk. Click here to listen on WLRN.


Events & Activities

Habitat Restoration Days

Get your hands dirty while helping to restore our fragile beach dune ecosystem on Virginia Key!

All the below volunteer opportunities take place on Virginia Key, from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

Click the links to RSVP, and the specific location details will be sent with your RSVP confirmation.

Saturday, February 12th

Saturday, February 26th

Saturday, March 12th

Saturday, March 26th

Saturday, April 16th

Saturday, April 30th


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