Southeast Volusia Audubon Society, P.O. Box 46, New Smyrna Beach, FL 32170;

October 2017 Conservation Notes

Some Brief Comments and Observations

Studying, creating, and implementing responses to the effects of sea-level rise in the State of Florida are now deeply embedded in the curricula of many colleges, both public and private in this state. A front-page article in the Daytona News-Journal (Oct 08, 2017) detailed this acknowledgment within the academic community of sea-level rise and its effects on our coastal and estuarine environments, both the natural, the built, and the re-engineered. This cross-department acknowledgement goes well-beyond the environmental, marine, and biological sciences and engineering studies and includes such disciplines as history, political science, anthropology, business studies, city planning, and the law. This widespread recognition in the academic community has resulted in a creative mixture of approaches to defining and responding to this effect linked to aworld-wide climate that is changing with-- relative to geological time scales-- unprecedented rapidity. The effects of sea-level rise, long acknowledged, for example, by the U.S. Navy and its facilities planning units, is now an accepted context to academic and applied studies.

By observing and studying the eco-systems and the aquifers in Florida we can also see the effects on our natural resources of the ongoing overdevelopment in this state. This sense of an entitlement to public resources to benefit the few has often negated the intent of voters to preserve their local environment and support those baseline issues that define quality of life (e.g., clean air and water, open green spaces, lack of crowding of roads and public facilities, zoning appropriate to the community, etc.). Too often, the local planning and zoning officials have voted to uphold the “rights” of self-serving and narrow-visioned developers, to the detriment of those who live and vote in a given municipality. Frequently the laws that have been implemented by voters and their elected representatives to safeguard the quality of local life, and to protect local and regional hydrological and ecological systems, are trumped by a developer’s purely fiscal arguments disconnected from local environmental and QoL issues.

In the State of Florida citizens concerned about the viability of their local eco-systems and aquifers should also continue to support expanded application of the funds mandated for conservation purposes by the 2014 amendment to the Florida Constitution –the Florida Water and Land Legacy Act. In addition, the citizens of Florida should also be wary of any legislative attempts to implement laws that appear to allow hydraulic fracturing (aka, “fracking”) in this state and remain vigilant of attempts to legitimize off-shore oil and gas drilling along the coasts of Florida. The actual and potential environmental costs of these fossil fuel development technologies would put our already threatened aquifers and eco-systems at much greater risk. Additionally, local zoning and development laws, and infrastructure improvement funds, should be applied to address the root causes of the deterioration of water quality in the Indian River Lagoon. The causes have been identified (septic systems; stormwater quality; fertilizer runoff; etc.) and political will and public funds must be focused on remediation.
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