The History of the Conservation Alliance
The Conservation Alliance of St. Lucie County, Inc.,
was established in 1972 by local citizens who were becoming aware of the growing threat to our natural resources and environment. They “pledge to protect the water, soil, air, native flora and fauna upon which all the Earth’s creatures depend for survival.” The group was formed with the Martin County Conservation Alliance as a general model. Founding organizations were: St. Lucie Audubon, Pt. St. Lucie Angler’s Club, League of Women Voters, Pt. St. Lucie Homeowners Assn., AARP, North St. Lucie River Drainage District, Beach Club Colony, North Beach Assn. and the Indian River Drive Freeholders.
Looking Back….About 1972, the inlet beach known as The North Beach was about to be sold to a condominium developer. The Alliance, joined with the Home and Neighborhood Development Society to gather thousands of signatures to petition the County Commission for a $10 million Beach Bond referendum. St. Lucie residents backed this effort and the final result was the State purchase of Inlet State Park and bond money purchase of beaches on both North and South Hutchinson Island.
In 1973, the Alliance launched “Save the Savannas.” The first major result was a decree for removal of the Twin Banyan Causeway which had been built across the Savannas, impeding flow.
In 1977, the State cabinet approved purchase of 3,800 acres, and all-terrain vehicles were banned in the park. The Alliance participated in cleanups, in getting a Park Ranger and supported the newly formed Savannas Reserve Endowment organization. Today 5,000 acres are protected making the Savannas reserve the largest remaining fresh water coastal marsh in the United States.
In the mid 70′s, the Alliance participated in many public hearings on nuclear power which resulted in very important increased safety requirements at the new Nuclear Power Plant such as the storm
The Alliance objected to the County’s use of Lawnwood Recreational Complex property for a County Administration Building. The County built the administration building anyway but as a concession, also built the St. Lucie County Civic Center.
The Alliance began and has continued a successful campaign to show that impact fees should be placed on new construction to provide money for new schools, parks, fire and police protection, and water and sewer service. The Alliance worked with the Citrus and Grove organizations as well as the ranchers to get the County to
work towards that end. Seeing thousands of trees being felled by developers, the Alliance in 1973 pushed for a County Tree Protection Ordinance. Commissioners set up a County Tree Protection Ordinance Committee to draft language which is now part of the County’s Comprehensive Plan.
The Alliance has consistently supported the efforts of the Ft. Pierce Sportfishing Club and the Florida League of Angler’s to protect and enhance the fish populations in Florida waters. In addition the Alliance was foremost in the campaign for the no-gill netting Amendment which passed with over 80% of the vote in St. Lucie County and 73% Statewide.
In the 1980′s, the Alliance’s North Fork of the St. Lucie River Preservation Committee took their boats and catalogued the pollution of the river coming from citrus processing plants. Because of their efforts, major improvements were made to correct the situation.
The Conservation Alliance worked for the establishment of the Indian River Lagoon Aquatic Preserve and the Alliance supplied the office with an underwater camera, an aquarium, three canoes and a cash contribution.
The Turtle Mothers, is a real success story. In 1982, under the Conservation Allianceumbrella “The Turtle Mothers,” a state certified sea turtle nest relocation team was organized. By 1986, the team had successfully relocated 28,000 sea turtle eggs.
In 1986, Alliance members helped write the award winning St. Lucie County Sea Turtle Protection Ordinance. The resulting cooperation of the beachfront businesses and homeowners in turning off or shielding beachfront lights during nesting season made it possible to leave most nests where the sea turtles deposited them. In 1991 only 15 nests required moving and since 1992 a group patrols the beach daily during the nesting season, keeping hatch success data for state records.
Also in 1986, the Alliance hosted the first Treasure Coast Environmental Workshop with speakers from State and local agencies. Through their efforts In 1996, the Port Advisory subcommittee evolved a comprehensive Recreational Port Plan.
In 1994, the Conservation Alliance, through its Land 4U2 Campaign, helped inform the voters in the County of the desperate need to save environmentally sensitive lands in St. Lucie County. A $20 million bond issue passed with over 67% of the vote, the highest percentage in the State for this issue.
The Alliance continued its push with efforts for passage of the Preservation 2000 bill that lead to the celebration recently of the 1 millionth acre of sensitive lands purchased.The Conservation Alliance began its Annual Awards dinners around 1973, with guest speakers of note such as the late Art Marshall and Marjorie Stoneman Douglas. “Environmental of the Year” awards were announced. In 1994 the “Permelia Pryor Reed Award” was added to honor the late Permelia Pryor Reed, who was personally responsible for creating Hobe Sound National Wildlife Refuge. This award is presented by her son, the Honorable Nathanial Pryor Reed to a chosen environmentalist.
Party in the Park…
This annual environmental festival was first held in 1994 when the Alliance was looking for a place for us to celebrate Earth Day. By Fall the ideal spot was found: The Ft. Pierce Inlet State Park. This very place had been saved from developers through the Alliance’s efforts in the “Save the Beaches” campaign.
The Alliance could not have succeeded with Party in the Park without the Savannas Reserve Endowment, one of the Citizen Support Organizations for the Florida State park System.
Area groups with environmental interests are invited to have free booths. Free entertainment is provided, with live bands, singers, dancers and historical storytelling. the 4H Clubs have a petting zoo, soft drinks and ice cream are available. Party in the Park is a full day of environmental education and entertainment for the whole family.
The Conservation Alliance has repeatedly objected to “out of watershed” mitigation projects which have allowed wetland-impacts that are in our County to be offset to other Counties watersheds.
In 2001, the County Commission appointed a representative from the Conservation Alliance to work with consultants to develop a new Airport Master Plan for the St. Lucie County International Airport.
The Conservation Alliance has been most diligent in its efforts to participate in any “Smart Growth” seminars, stressing quality development in St. Lucie County.
The Conservation Alliance and the Waterfront Council were instrumental in bringing Scott Pearson and his underwater slides of the area to Ft. Pierce. Scott does beautiful work for the National Geographic Society.
Members of the Alliance have served the past three years working with the Comprehensive Plan Study Group to improve the County Comprehensive Plan. The Alliance is also represented on the County Land Acquisition Selection Committee, the Blueway Advisory Committee and the Restudy Coordination Committee.