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The Ecocidal Side of Florida Gulf Coast University, March Madness Sweetheart

29 Mar

The university trampled over Florida panther habitat at the behest of a Big Ag benefactor. Cinderella who?

fgcu

by Tim Murphy /Mother Jones

The Florida Gulf Coast University Eagles, the first 15-seed ever to reach the NCAA basketball tournament’s second weekend, are the toast of March Madness on the basis of their high-flying style (nickname: “Dunk City“) and up-from-nowhere story. Less than two decades ago, FGCU was little more than a collection of trailers looking out over a swamp. Today its hoops team is hanging with the heavyweights.

The less inspiring story, however, is how FGCU rose up out of the swamp. To put it bluntly: The school paved over it, using government connections to pressure the US Fish and Wildlife Service into green-lighting the development and in the process wiping out one of the last vital habitat areas of the severely endangered Florida panther. FGCU’s is a particularly extreme version of a familiar story. For a century, South Florida developers have stared down all comers—and methodically reshaped the environment in the process. Continue reading