Saturday, November 23, 2013

Clay County Delegation Hearing and Plan Ahead!

Speaking at the Clay County Delegation Hearing.
I spoke before the Clay County Delegation hearing on Nov. 18th. The delegation includes our state senator, Rob Bradley and 2 representatives that claim part of Clay County in their districts: Charlie Van Zant and Travis Cummings. I spoke to this same group last year, which I wrote about in my article: "Supporting Wildlife Beyond Your Garden Gate."

While I still wanted to make the same case that preserving Florida's wildlands is not anti-business, I used different examples and changed the handouts.  So here is my handout to them--I'd printed on green paper. It includes a summary of my presentation and some references for more details.  Again I offered to be their go-to person if they had questions about environmental issues.

Preserving Florida's environment is NOT an anti-business policy

Ginny Stibolt; gstibolt@sky-bolt.com; 904 xxx-xxxx; www.GreenGardeningMatters.com

There were 91.5 million tourists in Florida in 2012. They spent $71.8 billion, generated 23 percent of the state’s sales tax revenue and created jobs for more than one million Floridians.  (85 visitors support one Florida job.)  But no one comes to Florida to see a shopping center or a dried up mudhole instead of a clear flowing spring because a bottling company was allowed to pump out our water at almost no cost.  We need to invest in our natural resources to attract even more tourists.

The sugar industry in Florida is heavily subsidized but they are damaging the Everglades and then the taxpayers and others are left with the bill for cleaning up their mess.  Shouldn't we let the free market take over?  If they can't make it without our help AND pay the cost to correct their pollution, then it's time to let them go out of business.  The Everglades are much more important dollarwise than the dirty sugar industry. Rarely can one government program insult so many for the benefit of so few.
Texas state parks are meticulously cared for and have extras like bird hosts who lead field trips each day. Florida has some wonderful state parks, but with budget shortfalls, they are struggling and it shows. Restore the budgets for our state parks.  They have a lot to offer, but it's not free. Aren't we better than Texas?
The plan to sell off "surplus lands" is not working well.  And the original deals to acquire many of these parcels was complex with private landholders, trusts, municipalities and others with the stipulation that they would become part of Florida Forever.  As a biologist I can tell you that even small chunks of open lands serve as important habitat, especially for migrating birds and butterflies.

Some species of songbird populations have dropped more than 80% since the 1960s.  How are we going to attract all those birders here if we wipe out those habitats to put in another development or shopping center?

Florida's natural ecosystems have value. Please do what you can to make sure they are preserved.

Resources:
Article on the "Surplus Lands" sale:  www.heraldtribune.com/article/20131117/article/131119658
Article on coddling the sugar industry: www.tampabay.com/opinion/editorials/editorial-end-the-sweet-deal-for-big-sugar/2151569
Audubon Florida: www.FL.Audubon.org
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Plan Ahead!

A road project in Orange Park FL. What's wrong with this picture?

When Mother Nature plants her trees, she doesn't always leave enough room for their full adult sizes, but as humans we should be smart enough so that our woody plants have enough room to grow and are placed so that they won’t need much corrective pruning to fit into the landscape, but guess what?  We are not that smart.  See my latest post over on the Beautiful Native Plants blog: Plan Ahead! 

 I hope you have a bountiful Thanksgiving.

Green Gardening Matters,
Ginny Stibolt

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