A coalition under the name of a Seminole Indian leader will begin a fiveday protest of the proposed “River of Grass” Greenway from Mar. 29-Apr. 2.
The protest walk is to be led by Bobby C. Billie, identified as “Spiritual Leader and Clan Leader of the Council of the Original Miccosukee Aboriginal Peoples,” with its organization assisted by the “Love The Everglades Movement.” The walk is described by organizers as “non-violent” opposition to the proposed Greenway.
The walk will begin after a public check-in and campsite setup at the Trail Lakes Campground in Ochopee on Mar. 28.
The Greenway proposes a bicycling and nature trail extending 75 miles along the Tamiami Trail (US 41) between Krome Avenue and East Naples. A $1.6 million feasibility study began with three public meetings in Naples, Everglades City and Miami, Dec. 9-11, 2014.
The Greenway is planned as a 12- to 14-foot wide “corridor” paralleling the highway with sufficient space for a shared use asphalt-paved biking/hiking and nature trail, buffered from two-lane traffic on US 41.
The protestors say the Greenway will displace indigenous communities, obliterate sites of cultural and spiritual significance, undermine Everglades Restoration efforts and have negative impact on ecosystems and wildlife.
“The walk will cover 15 miles every day with regular rest breaks every five miles, including meals and refreshments,” according to JohnBob Carlos in an email message from the Movement’s “Coordination Circle.
“Along the way, we will be learning about the impact that the River of Grass Greenway, an asphalt bike path, will have on important ecosystems, local businesses, indigenous communities, historical sites, and spirituality. Fireside chats during evenings of the walk will highlight indigenous and historical perspectives,” the message concludes.
“Well, I hope they have a peaceful walk next to traffic going by at 50 miles per hour,” said Maureen Bonness, Collier County botanist long associated with the Greenway study.
Both Bonness and Patty Huff, editor of The Mullet Wrapper, an Everglades City weekly newspaper, are among a large group of Naples area residents supporting the Greenway project.
The trail (also known as “ROGG”) would begin at the eastern edge of Everglades National Park near the intersection of Krome Avenue (SW 177th Avenue) and Eighth Street in Miami-Dade continuing to the western edges of Collier- Seminole State Park near 6-L Farm Road on the eastern outskirts of Naples.
Most of the corridor passes through public lands, including six national and state parks, as well as privately owned properties with frontages including a variety of long-established Trail businesses, such as fishing camps and tourist stops, and land owned by three independent Indian tribes and individuals.
Details or registration for the protest walk are available at www.LoveTheEverglades.org/walkfor-mother-earth.html ; for Greenway information, visit online at www.evergladesROGG.com.