Marco Island EPSS Again Set to Impress


I’ve been lucky enough to attend the Environmental Permitting Summer School since its inception in the early 80’s, and although I’m biased — not only because I have the privilege of helping to put on the conference, but also because my late father was so intimately involved — in my mind, we simply provide the greatest conference experience in the southeastern United States.

The formula for success has undoubtedly been aided by our location. The beaches of Marco Island are the ideal backdrop to the experience. Our partners at the JW Marriott do an exemplary job of providing facilities that are continually updated and an ambiance that is unmatched. Additionally, our relationship with the Florida Chamber provides for the natural synergy between the protection of our precious resources and the representation of the business community for the 13th largest economy in the world.

For me personally, the conference is a homecoming and an annual tradition. I now get to bring my wife and children year-after-year to the same beach, restaurants, and shops I grew up going to every July. Many of the attendees have spent decades doing the same with their families. Countless stories and memories have been shared with me of just how unique and special the conference is for our attendees.

In addition to welcoming folks to an unbeatable location, our annual efforts are focused on providing the most informative and interactive experience possible for speakers, sponsors, and attendees alike.

Mr. Littlejohn, at the conference’s inception in 1987, wisely knew that if the conference was successful in bringing in regulators at the local, state, and federal level as speakers that getting people to register would not be a difficult task. Having traversed the state and attending dozens of conferences each year myself, I can confidently say that there are few opportunities to engage with state agencies, water management districts, executive office staff, and federal agencies as easily accomplished, and more enjoyable, then at Summer School.

Stress seems to fade upon arrival allowing engineers, attorneys, and consultants alike the freedom to both socialize and advocate before those who are making the important decisions regarding Florida’s natural resources. It truly sets itself apart from other conferences in countless central Florida hotels where you may or may not leave the property and the biggest question will be how long the walk is from your hotel room to the conference staging area.

Our courses provide subject matter experts in various environmental fields, and we do our best to refresh or keep current the subject matters at hand. The judicial, executive, and legislative branches of government certainly give us a roadmap each year as to what the newest and hottest topics are that will be discussed in Marco. Great thought is given to ensure that no topic is left on the sideline and we’ve certainly seen wide sweeping changes to: land use/growth management laws; state and federal battles on numeric nutrient criteria and the 404 program; the creation of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP); the evolution of private property rights; and the emergence of reclaimed water and expanded uses of stormwater; and of course, emerging contaminants such as PFOS and PFOA. The list of topics is vast and too many to name here, but each one of these topics has been discussed at length in Marco Island.

Jeff Littlejohn and I have had hours of discussion centered around defining the “Marco experience,” and how we can continue to provide unique opportunities for speakers and attendees to engage and interact every July. Part of the evolution of the summer school has been the acquisition of the Florida Specifier, starting the Florida Specifier podcast, which aim to give subscribers and advertisers a connection that can follow them once our time in Marco comes to an end each year.

We hope that attendees continue to find significant value in your attendance of the Environmental Permitting Summer School, and we hope that they continue to consider it a family event. I     ‘ll never not enjoy the common refrain I hear in Tallahassee as the legislature is concluding their work; “see you in Marco.”

To our advertisers, attendees, speakers, and guests, thank you for your ongoing support and we’re thrilled to welcome you to another year in paradise.

Ryan Matthews is a Shareholder at the Gray Robinson law firm and helps organize the Environmental Permitting Summer School


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