People who live and work around Lake Okeechobee gathered Friday night at Belle Glade City Hall to plan their fight to save their livelihoods. Specifically, they want to stop a state senate plan to buy land south of Lake Okeechobee, fearing that would take away thousands of jobs.
Senate Bill 10, written at the direction of State Senate President Joe Negron of Stuart, calls for the state to buy 60,000 acres of land south of the lake and build a reservoir for excess water from the lake. The goal is to prevent another algae crisis like last summer's when the Lake Okeechobee overflow went toward the Treasure Coast.
"No area of the state, whether it's east, west, central has the right to engage in activities that hurt another part of the state, so there should be shared adversity," Negron said.
But those who live in the Glades say if the plan goes through, they'd bear the runt of it.
"We empathize with them, but we are not the cause of their coastal problems," said Tammy Jackson-Moore, one of the founders of community group Guardians of the Glades.
Jackson-Moore says the group was created to give the Glades region a voice. She fears if Senate Bill 10 passes, 4,000 jobs would be lost in an already hurting area.
"It's the community as well as the residents that suffer, and we are tired of suffering," Jackson-Moore said. "We want people to leave this meeting today fired up enough to call their congress people, their representatives, local, county, state, let them know that they live here and they have a vested interest in this community and they want to be a part of the conversation as well."
The Guardians of the Glades say they want lawmakers to look at other options that don't involve taking their farmland. One of those ideas includes purchasing land north of Lake Okeechobee and storing the water there.