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

October 2013 Prez Sez

I hope everyone had a great summer and is ready for another season of education, science and activism.  Lots of things have happened since we last communicated. 

Space Florida is really pressing for 200 acres at the intersection of State Road 3 and U.S. 1 to build a commercial launch facility ostensibly for SpaceX to use if they are interested.  This area is part of MINWR, is environmentally sensitive, used by lots of outdoor people including birders, hunters and fishermen, and also has important artifacts of archeological and historical importance.  They have pressed to the point of an environmental impact study and the FAA has already chosen a company to conduct the study.  It is on a fast track despite all the environmental and archeological sensitivity.  The County Council and the Mayor of Oak Hill are all for it because of the promise of jobs.  Obviously we are fighting it.

The Florida Land and Water Legacy Campaign has reached a milestone in that the Fl Supreme Court approved the language to be used in the 2014 ballot initiative.  Petition gathering was not going as fast as necessary to get the number of petitions required to have the issue placed on the next general election ballot so they are hiring paid petition canvassers and identifying events in the state where volunteers and paid canvassers can find large crowds.  They have been asking for donations to fund the efforts and your executive voted to donate $200 to the cause.  If you have an interest in the issue and time to dedicate to getting people to sign petitions, see me at the next meeting.  The campaign sent me 200 petitions which I will have available at the meeting.. 

The Indian River Lagoon is sick and getting worse, not better.  If you have seen the brown algal muck the last few years, you understand what I mean. The SJRWMD is studying the issue while many of the causes are pretty evident.  Too much fresh water with a high nutrient load from farms and developments are at least part of the problem.   Aged septic systems are as well.  A new Florida Audubon Regional Conservation Committee has been established with representatives of the Audubon clubs associated with the IRL.  We met once this summer and hope to do so again with the aim of sharing ways of pressing local governments to get involved in the health of the lagoon.  The incredible mortality rates of manatees, pelicans and dolphins make this a high priority.

After the Water Management Districts had their assessments of public lands to see which parcels could be sold, the FL Department of Environmental Protection is engaged in its own assessment.  Most of the lands they are suggesting for inclusion in the disposal scheme are very important to the missions of the lands they support.  We are objecting to most of their proposals. 

So there is lots to do.  If you are interested, please let us know.  We need all the help we can get.