While waiting for the approval, they are clearcutting huge swaths of timber instead of section by section as they used to do. The result is a large area of rural East Alachua County that looks like it was hit by bombs instead of the cutting saw. And as you drive around much of North Florida these days, you see much the same. The last vestige of rural life in the Sunshine State is rapidly disappearing and somehow I think that a class of tourists will miss the splendor of the Spanish moss, thickets and wildlife that will disappear shortly as well.
Now in all fairness to the timber giant, there are some portions of the area that are suitable for development, it's just that to blanket the entire area with a multi-use zoning designation is madness. The land will require massive build up and since the area receives heavy rainfall annually, when the flash flooding occurs it will head downhill to those who live quietly in consonance with nature. Plus there is practically no infrastructure in place and the cost to the taxpayers for that will be huge and hasn't een been taken into consideration by the change agents.
The Alachua County Commission will begin final hearings on February 16th, afterwhich they will deliberate and make their decision. While many are skeptical of the scope and breadth of the project, it is likely to pass on a close, split vote. Accordingly, the other side of the story needs to be told since Plum Creek has deep pockets and has cultivated a strong supporting group in the Chamber of Commerce community while those concerned have used a mostly grass roots activism to get the word out.
George Sibley, a producer of audio and video programs, has produced a audio podcast entitled Plum Pudding, which was funded by the Sierra Club. It is in five parts and is being heard on my Blog Talk Radio program, North Florida Writer Live right now. The first installment is up and running and the remaining segments will go live in the next week, then remain on demand 24/7. While I am not a member of Sierra nor do I agree with some of their recommendations, I think this one is "spot on" and the folks working as volunteers to seek modification to Plum Creek's plans are much broader in scope than the Sierra Club's charter. They span the spectrum from liberal to conservative and from all walks of life.
If you live in North Florida, I hope you will take the time to listen to the entire series which will air it's fifth and final episode no later than February 16th, the date of the hearings. This is just one of many overly ambitious projects being proposed in North Florida today. And since North Florida is the last bastion of "Old Florida", with a quieter and more traditional lifestyle than the rest of the state, Florida needs to be much more careful than she has been of late on development issues. There should be room for both approaches, urban and rural, to living in a state with such natural beauty. Otherwise, the Sunshine State will be no better than a crowded urban jungle dotted with palm trees and even more oppressive heat.
Here's the link: tobtr.com/s/8274415. And be looking for the other installments which will be advertised here, on Twitter and Facebook. God bless you all.