I had a lawyer friend once who lived by the motto “sue early, sue often.” I’m not sure if that is what I want on my tombstone, but I admired the dedication. Usually in the course of human events it is better to resolve something without litigation and the courts. With that said sometimes something is so egregious that its time to head on down to the courthouse and seek some justice.It is hard to figure out the Army Corps in Florida these days. Are they the champions of Everglades restoration? Or are they the “Dredge and Fill” Corp? The Corps has promised changes and a new way in Florida, but from where I sit the permit approvals to destroy wetlands still flow out of the Corp office in Jacksonville like money flows to a corrupt politician.On Monday Oct. 1st, 2007 the Sierra Club, Clean Water Action and Gulf Restoration Network filed a federal lawsuit in Washington, D.C. against the Army Corp and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service for violations of federal environmental laws by issuing a section 404 permit to the developers on the Cypress Creek Town Center project (Case No. 07-CV-01756). We are suing to require that impacts to the endangered species, wetlands and our waters be avoided and minimized. We are suing because federal agencies, both the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, fundamentally failed the people of Tampa Bay, and the wetlands and wildlife of Tampa Bay. We are suing because nature only made one Cypress Creek and it is a beautiful place.When we filed suit Denise Layne of the Sierra Club noted that “350 acres of concrete on a 550 acre site containing huge wetlands, creek and recharge areas is a crying shame. The ecosystem on this property has been the home to all kinds of threatened and endangered species which need the wetlands and a healthy creek system to survive. And, speaking of water…the land clearing has already polluted the creek, an Outstanding Florida Water. We have no faith in this permit protecting this exquisite piece of property as required by federal laws.” GRN was drawn to this case because of the impact this project will have and has had on threatened and endangered species, and the wetlands systems they depend on. The Army Corps of Engineers has fundamentally failed to protect threatened and endangered species, failed to protect wetlands and Cypress Creek, and failed to protect water quality for regional residents. Citizens in the Tampa Bay region expect and deserve better from the government agencies charged with protecting our environment. We’re in court and working on the ground to make sure that this happens.Joe Murphy is the Florida Program Coordinator for GRN.

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