>Mr. Bob Jones, President
>Paragon Foundation
>1200 White Sands Boulevard, Number 10
>Alamogordo, NM 88310
>Mr. Jones;
>Mr. Walley suggested I write to you and tell you the story of my community
>and ask for your help. The community I live in is called the "8.5 Square
>Mile Area" by government agencies. I call my community Pariah, Florida. It
>lies along the eastern edge of Everglades National Park. Several thousand
>people live here. For the most part they're Cuban. They came here from
>Cuba because they believed that they would be treated with fairness and
>honesty by our democratic government. Little did they know what was going
>to happen to them.
>The community is made up of small, family owned farms and ranches. Most
>farms are five to ten acres in size. Over half the land in the community is
>used for some form of commercial agricultural production. We produce
>tropical fruit and winter vegetables, herbs, cut flowers and honey. People
>have plant nurseries. They raise pigs, goats, horses and chickens.
>The area has been granted flood protection by Congress on three separate
>occasions, but because of radical environmentalists hiding in state and
>federal government agencies my community has been flooded unmercifully
>since 1994 in an effort to force people to become "willing sellers." In the
>process of flooding us the government agencies involved in "restoring" the
>Everglades have managed to flood the entire Miami-Dade County area twice in
>a one year period. So far there has been at least $1 billion in flood
>related losses and 14 flood related deaths throughout the urban and
>agricultural areas of the county. The agricultural community in the
>southern part of the County is literally on it's knees. Fifty year old
>avocado and mango groves are dead. To the government they're just more
>"willing sellers."
>Flooding has destroyed my community's way of life. Over half the 55 miles
>of unpaved roads in the community are no longer passable to regular
>vehicles. Year after year, people have lost crops, orchards and livestock.
>The flooding is not a natural event-it has been engineered by the government
>agencies that are supposed to be "restoring the Everglades." As one man who
>was forced by the flooding to become a "willing seller" said at a public
>meeting, "You use water as a weapon!" Another man told me just before he
>sold his home to the government, "They've killed the American Dream."
>In 1989, Congress passed the Everglades National Park Protection and
>Expansion Act. This Act told the park it could buy up all the vacant land
>in Northeast Shark River Slough. It also told the Corps of Engineers to do
>two things: provide the park with a more natural hydrologic regime, and to
>protect the communities that would be impacted by this. The exact
>legislative language reads, "The Secretary of the Army is authorized and
>directed to construct a flood protection system to protect the developed
>land within such area." (PL 101-229, Section 104, paragraph 2c)
>The Corps developed the Modified Water Delivery Project to do what Congress
>had ordered. This project was Congressionally approved and fully federally
>funded in 1992. How could they screw this up?
>In 1994, all forward movement on our little flood protection canal stopped.
>It seemed the park wanted a "buffer zone." In the years since then the
>Corps has developed a "compromise alternative" which puts a canal up the
>most populated street in the community. This leaves half of the community
>unprotected and costs over three times as much as the original project. The
>Corps doesn't even have Congressional authority to condemn land outside the
>foot print of the original project and funding for the project is uncertain.
>In the process of choosing this "compromise" solution the Corps, along with
>it's allies, the National Park Service, the Fish & Wildlife Service and the
>Corps local sponsor, the South Florida Water Management District, has
>committed fraud, violated NEPA, abused the Endangered Species Act, committed
>numerous violations of it's own administrative procedures and wasted over
>$15 million in tax money-all in an effort to take our homes and farms away
>from us!
>It's bad enough for the government to do this us, but in the process of
>holding up completion of the Modified Water Delivery Project, the involved
>agencies are unable to release water into the park in the volumes necessary
>for ecosystem functioning. Rather than let the excess water out to tide,
>the water is being stockpiled in the state owned Everglades north of the
>park. This has turned the area into an inland sea. More than half the tree
>islands are dead and endangered species are being impacted. Because of the
>hydrology of the area, water stockpiled above the surface in one place will
>soak into the ground and raise the ground water throughout the County. When
>there is a heavy rainstorm the water has nowhere to go and the entire County
>floods. The agricultural area just south of my community has been
>devastated by the flooding.
>It seems that all over the United States rural communities are under siege.
>Excessive regulation in the name of "preserving the environment" prevents
>reasonable use of our land while unfair trade treaties flood our markets
>with cheap foreign produce. Small rural communities are often poor,
>sparsely populated and politically powerless. How can we protect ourselves
>from the actions of our own government? Perhaps if other communities like
>mine can band together we can make our voices heard in Washington. This
>letter is a formal request for assistance from the Paragon Foundation. Can
>you help us with media support? If we had access to the media we might be
>able to get enough nation-wide support to turn the tide before it's too
>Thank you for your interest in my community's problems. I hope we can work
>Madeleine Fortin, President
>East Everglades Legal Defense Foundation
>21801 SW 152 Street
>Miami, FL 33187
>phone 305-255-7098
>e-mail <>

NOTE: Letter from Madeleine Fortin used with her permission