Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Losing Florida

Finding Florida, originally uploaded by Paul-G.

The past 5 days have brought amazing contrasts. The image above is a Swallowtail Kite hunting in the skies above the Seminole State Forest, about 15 miles west of Sanford in central Florida. This image is from a distance of about 250 - 300 yards. Mrs. Muse, her sister and husband, and I spent Easter weekend camping the way nature intended, 5 miles into the forest. Other than the occasional sound of a jet engine and the daily visit from Ranger Linda, we neither saw, nor heard another human being. What we did see were the piney woods, stands of live oak, open Florida sand hill prairie, sulphur springs, Hawks, the Kite, wild turkeys, deer, skinks and lizards, sand hill cranes, Florida Spring Wildflowers, butterflies and Blackwater Creek. Then, of course, there were the gnats, red bugs, ants, and ticks -- but they were well worth the price of minor annoyance. Nothing quite like sitting under a broad, black Florida sky on a Saturday night counting the passage of satellites and watching shooting stars flash by. Fantastic. Then there was yesterday...

Once again, a State of Florida agency, supposedly existing in order to protect our natural resources, acted shamefully, foolishly, stupidly. The Saint Johns River Water Management District Board voted to permit the DAILY withdrawal of more than 500,000 (half-a-million) gallons of water from the Saint Johns River to meet the needs of the exploding population of Seminole County. This is the same SJWMD Board that limits residential irrigation to 2 days each week (still probably too much), and is likely to grant a permit to Niagara Water to draw 175,000 gallons per year from the aquifer to bottle and sell. Political appointees at their worst. Follow the money and it very likely ends up in the pockets of board members or their supporting cast of Florida real estate developers. Keep the population growing, keep the cash flowing, but ignore the vast majority of knowledgeable scientists, environmentalists and city governments along the Saint Johns who testified that the scientific evaluation of the impact of the withdrawal is incomplete. One must hope that the ink on the dollar bills will quench the thirst of these dolts when the water is gone.

So we protect a wee bit of natural Florida -- then do what Florida good-old-boy politicians do best: suck the life out of the land for a few dollars more. When WILL they ever learn.

1 comment:

I am a lover of children's literature said...

Sounds like quite the trip. I hope that the day will come when conservation becomes a bigger priority than selfish political or financial gain!