By Bill Frankenberger, biologist
Having grown up when Florida was still almost paradise and having tried to protect the state’s once bountiful natural resources during a 50-year career, I have to admit that I and the others like me are failing.
For example, Nestle wants to take water from one of our precious natural springs to sell to fill their coffers while reducing our clean water output. Another water source, Rainbow Springs, is threatened by large scale riverside development.
The New and Santa Fe rivers could be seriously degraded by a mining operation. Cyanobacteria and red tide blooms are increasing in extent and severity along our coasts because of runoff from agriculture, urban wastewater, industry and storm water that carries excess nitrogen and phosphorus — and it’s worse than you can imagine.
Our environment is being nibbled away by developers so the sprawl sneaks up on us. Look at the little woodsy green tracts of land with the inevitable real estate sign out front and you know another bite will be taken from what is left of our state’s natural resources.
Gainesville’s tree canopy has been diminished as sprawl takes it down. Then there’s the totally useless M-CORES project that will obliterate rural lifestyles, agricultural operations, wetlands and, of course, much more of Florida’s environment if it bulldozes many miles through our state to make money for road builders and, of course, developers.
The developers have taken control, aided by our state government’s lackadaisical environmental attitude. Despite useless so-called safeguards on the environment, they mean nothing when a developer wants something.
Mitigation is utterly useless. I know because I’ve had to check many mitigation projects and I don’t know of one that was successful. How can you say merely maintaining an existing, operating wetland will make up for another being utterly destroyed? I could hardly read books like “Paving Paradise.” “Losing It All to Sprawl” was so tragic I couldn’t finish it.
There are good non-governmental organizations trying their best to beat this thing, but it’s not enough unfortunately. We can win some small battles, but have a hard time with the big ones. Yes, we need a lot of help.
Bill Frankenberger is a certified wildlife biologist living in Gainesville.
“The Invading Sea” is the opinion arm of the Florida Climate Reporting Network, a collaborative of news organizations across the state focusing on the threats posed by the warming climate.