Interview: Maureen Rupe, Partnership For A Sustainable Future

Partnership for a Sustainable FutureBrevard County can boast about fantastic natural resources such as our fabulous beaches, the Indian River Lagoon, the St. John’s River, and unique habitats such as scrub and mangrove islands.

As our county continues to develop and the number of residents grows we are faced with increasing demands for infrastructure such as schools, roads, and other public services. Demands on our aquifer as a source of freshwater continues to grow and our natural areas slowly dwindle or degrade. Fortunately, Brevard can also boast a wealth of citizens and organizations looking to slow the impacts to our environment and to promote sustainable development. These organizations are often small, poorly-funded, volunteer-based organizations typically have overlap in their goals.

Working together to support each these common goals makes sense and provides a louder voice in the community. But does it happen? Well, yes thanks to a group called the Partnership for a Sustainable Future, also know as the Partnership, is a coalition of diverse groups with a mission devoted “to establishing and maintaining an economically and environmentally sustainable future for Brevard County.” The Partnership advocates policies and programs that further sustainable growth and improve the quality of life for Brevard County residents and visitors.

Partnership for a Sustainable FutureThe Partnership’s main goals are to:
Plan for residential growth to limit congestion, and decrease travel time to school and work.

Plan for industrial growth to reduce air and water pollution, traffic, and provide quality employment.

Protect our watersheds, floodplains and water supply from encroachment and contamination.

Restore and maintain Indian River Lagoon and St. Johns River systems. Our waters provide recreation for residents and yearly account for millions of dollars in tourism.

Aquaculture, sport and commercial fishing in the Indian River adds several million dollars yearly to Brevard’s economy.
Protect remaining natural areas and obtain greenway corridors to connect them.

Support strong landscaping and land clearing ordinances for xeriscape, preserving and planting native trees and plants. Expand residential and commercial waste recycling.

Their members include individuals and representatives from local organizations who are working together to achieve these goals. Working with state and local officials for the protection of wildlife & their habitat is a goal supported by many of the Partnerships groups. By networking with their member groups for support on issues a much stronger voice in the community.

Member Groups of the Partnership include:
Barrier Island Protection and Preservation Society
Cocoa Beach Citizens Action Committee
Florida Native Plant Society (Conradina & Sea Rocket Chapter)
Friends of the Scrub
Healthy Planet of Brevard
League of Women Voters of the Space Coast
Marine Resources Council
Save the Manatee Club
SAVE the St. Johns River
Sea Turtle Preservation Society
Sierra Club Turtle Coast Group
Space Coast Audubon Society
Space Coast Progressive Alliance
The Friends of Enchanted Forest, Inc.

Maureen Rupe, the group’s President, answered the following questions:

How long have you been involved in the Partnership?
7 years

What attracted you to this organization?
It has the same philosophy as myself.

What’s your biggest accomplishment to date?
To form a network of support at county commission meetings (through emails, phone calls) on issues that threaten the environment and our quality of life.

What are some of the major obstacles the Partnership faces in trying to attain their goals?
The make-up of our local government and the state passing on their responsibilities to the local county and city boards.

How can the public help your efforts or get involved in the Partnership?
If we could get membership to monetarily support law suits. The law is sometimes the only way an issue can be resolved; the local government often violates their own comprehensive plan and policies. The only recourse is for citizens to sue.

Can you give me some other issues the partnership has worked on and solved?
We stopped the cutting of the trees in the Enchanted Forest and we have halted illegal filling of the Indian River Lagoon. There are numerous issues that we monitor every day and take action on. We constantly speak at county commission meetings, send letters and make phone calls. Just a few weeks ago, the county commission had to rescind a vote they had taken that was against their own policies because the Partnership challenged them in public.

The collective voice of these organizations is much louder than the whole and the proactive efforts made by the Partnership will reap benefits for years to come in Brevard County.

To get Involved, or for more information call Maureen Rupe, President, at (321) 639-6839