Look, folks, I am no bleeding heart liberal, but I do believe in conservation and it is clear for anyone to see who walks about in rural, outlying Florida that we humans are hellbent on destroying some of the most beautiful and natural parts of our environment. And as both a conservative and a Christian I know that God gave us dominion over this earth to nurture it, not destroy it. That doesn't mean that we can't create new development as needed, for He expects us to do so, but to do so in ways that minimize the destruction of all of his creatures. The lay of the land clearly shows what areas are really not appropriate for development yet we continue to destroy them and then wonder later what went wrong.
While this issue is certainly not unique to Florida as development is sprawling all over the fruited plain, it is a huge issue here due to a warm and attractive semi-tropical climate and the lack of a state income tax. The state is truly blessed by the influx of tourist dollars to support state funding. But as the state becomes more heavily populated (it has just become the third most populous state although much smaller than the two leaders, California and Texas), the stress and strains on natural resources, especially water and wildlife, is clearly taking a toll.
And here's the major problem. As the very popular coastal and higher elevation areas, which are now severely limited in this low-lying state, become overpopulated like Miami and Tampa Bay, the latest boon is to populate the wetlands and heavily wooded area. These, of course, are the very areas which are home to our wildlife and the source of the crystal clear water that we all use and need. If the same thing is done in those areas as what was done to the Everglades in Florida past, not only will Florida no longer be a viable destination for the tourist trade, the unique beauty of the state will be transformed to an ocean to gulf urban setting in the image of an LA or New York City.
So how do we stop this if it is deemed undesirable? Only a concerted and determined active involvement in civic affairs will do the trick. By this I mean attending local government political meetings, including city council and county commissioner meetings, and being willing to speak out, write letters and recruit neighbors and friends of like opinion to join the movement. Don't let special interests and spineless politicians set the agenda, get together in large numbers and set the agenda for them with logical plans, limited compromise, and the determination to stay in the fight.
Government is only as responsive as we make it and since the developers and their supporters are willing to spend the money to get what they want, the only way to combat that is with large numbers of voters expressing contrary views and voting accordingly. The one thing politicians do appreciate even more than campaign contributions is an organized and informed voting populace. It's the only thing that will do the trick.
It's not easy and it takes hard work, but if the concern is there, we will do it. And one other thing and this is important. We can't demand absolutes like no hunting and we can't organize in support of one exclusive party. If that happens, not only will the politicians not listen, we will also lose support of two groups that area important, the hunters themselves as well as large groups of voters of different political affiliation but similar views on the issue. You see, hunters as well as voters of widely varying views don't want every square inch of Florida developed either. They merely want the right to practice their time honored tradition where it makes sense and keeps our wildlife sustainable as well as live in a society that is both beautiful and livable.
Think about it, folks, and decide if we have what it takes to win the issue and make a difference. But just know this: if those who challenge bad government decision are represented at each meeting by the few and the same players on each issue, nothing will change and all the protest signs from Jacksonville to Miami to Pensacola and all points in between will accomplish nothing. And now, as Rick Scott so likes to say, it's time for us to get to work.
And here is the link to last night's program: