Tuesday, October 21, 2014
In his groundbreaking book, Bringing Nature Home, entomologist Douglas Tallamy presents us with dire predictions for the fate of all life on this planet if we don’t get our act together. Through agriculture, cities and suburban landscapes, we have shrunk the lower 48 states in effect, to 1/20 their original size. He states, “Unless we modify the places we live, work and play to meet not only our own needs but the needs of other species as well, nearly all species of wildlife native to the United States will disappear forever.” A prediction that as he reveals so eloquently, does not need to happen.
In our efforts to create what we think of as livable landscapes, and to impress ourselves and each other, we have created yards and workplaces, parks and schools devoid of any life at all. Lawn is king, and a status symbol of all we have achieved. “Pests”, any living thing without fur or feathers, are not allowed, and we have been spraying our way toward Armageddon at an alarming rate. Our children have been affected by all the man-made chemicals we have poured onto to the ground and into the air, with links to autism, ADHD and other childhood illnesses and issues. And every year, Americans pour money hand over fist to “pest” control companies to poison their soil in an effort to control what we do not realize are species essential to all life forms on this planet, including humans.
Love birds? Then we must love “bugs” as well! Herbivorous arthropods (insects, spiders etc.) that are able to eat the leaves of plants and turn that stored energy into something usable by others, are the first trophic layer after plants on earth. They are the engines that keep us all going. They, in turn, are consumed by other arthropods, birds, mammals (including humans in many areas of the world) and become energy on another trophic layer. These layers combine in ways that are integrated, and have evolved over millions of years. So, what happens when the bugs in that first layer after plants are given nothing but non native, or exotic plants to eat? They can’t! Many people of course, when they don’t know any better, want that. It seems like a great way to kill off all those “pests”. So what happens to the song birds and other wildlife we enjoy when our yards are pest free? They die. Without protein for their babies to grow fast and strong flight muscles, song birds cannot survive. And if they do not survive, neither do hawks and eagles. And then, there can be too many of one kind of bug, and everything goes to hell in a hand basket! Now that fall migration has begun, birds following the major flyway peninsula of Florida depend on the seeds and nectar of native plants as they have for thousands of years.
The truth is most people DO like life in their yards. And, as Doug says, “…they may be willing to change decades-old patterns of landscaping if the payoff is more wildlife.” How do we begin to change those outdated, archaic, obviously not quite right patterns of landscaping? The answer is simple…go native! Wherever you live, there are hundreds if not thousands of species of plants that evolved right where you are. Trees, shrubs, vines, wildflowers, plants that grow in water and rich loamy soil, plants that grow in sand and everything in between. Plants that need lots of sun, some that like some shade and some that needs to be in full shade. Whatever the conditions are in your current landscape, there are native plants that can grow there…with NO pesticides, NO fertilizer, NO soil amendments. Plants will only ask for a three inch layer of organic mulch to get started. (But NOT cypress mulch, after all, cypress trees are native to Florida!)
Monday, September 29, 2014
Stop Sugar Hill/Buy the Land Press Conferences
at both locations:
In Ft. Myers: FDEP South District Office, 2295 Victoria Avenue, Ft. Myers, FL 33902
In Ft. Pierce: FDEP Branch Office, 337 N. U.S. Hwy 1, Ft. Pierce, FL 34952
Next week is the deadline for FDEP and SFWMD comments to the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) on the Sugar Hill Sector Plan - the DEO process is such that denial is impossible without negative comments from the agencies.
Despite what you may have seen/heard from Hendry County, all of the U.S. Sugar property in the Sugar Hill Sector Plan is included in the contract to buy U.S. Sugar land for Everglades restoration and the protection of the estuaries. Some of that property is for restoration projects and the rest of it is for swapping to get the non-U.S. Sugar lands in the EAA needed to send clean water south. Check out the attached map!
Join us to deliver a loud, clear message to FDEP, SFWMD and the Governor:
Stop the Harm
Buy the Land
Send Water South
Fund it Now
Save the Estuaries
Save the Everglades
Please contact me for more information and to let us know if your organization would like to speak at the press conference.
My apologies for duplicate notices!
Tuesday, September 16, 2014
Monday, August 25, 2014
A look back at human civilizations of the past and how we continue to repeat the same mistakes over and over again regarding the resource that provides us with the bulk of our food: the soil.
More good stuff to learn about more good stuff! It's the LIFE in the soil that allows our plants to grow healthy and strong, and we need to understand how it all works.
Wednesday, August 20, 2014
Thursday, August 7, 2014
Pine Island is the next victim of US Sugar/King Ranch corruption
US Sugar and King Ranch have paid tens of thousands of dollars in bribes to Governor Scott and other state and Southwest Florida officials, and in return have been rewarded with legislation that saves the companies millions of dollars in Everglades pollution cleanup costs (which has to be made up by taxpayers), as well as other big favors. They claim it’s all legal because the money was routed through the Republican Party instead of going directly to the officials (like that actually makes a difference!). The News-Press said this “looks fishy.” Gee, you think!
Bribery is bribery (legal or not!), and it has a long history in Florida state and local politics. Don’t sugarcoat it—just tell it like it is.
Victims of this corruption are the taxpayers, Lee County Commissioner Ray Judah (who was driven from office by a million dollar negative television blitz led by US Sugar), as well as the Everglades, the quality of our water, and now Pine Island.
King Ranch, one of the largest landowners in the United States, has a long and nasty history of taking over entire communities by buying up the available land and using their enormous power and influence (including legalized bribery) to do away with local zoning and other land use controls. Pine Island is only the latest victim.
King Ranch has within the past two years purchased some 18 properties on Pine Island, a total of about 340 acres of palm farms for some $4 million, plus at least one mangrove area (probably for wetland development mitigation). They have overnight become the second largest commercial enterprise on Pine Island (second only to PalmCo). They also, true to form, immediately hired a local “developer-oriented “ attorney to get rid of the Pine Island Land Use Plan. Their all-out effort last year to do just that failed, but no one thinks they have given up.
The public interest and especially Pine Island cry out for some serious investigative journalism as well as law enforcement (we can do the former locally, but the latter will have to come from the federal government). The News-Press has done some great investigative journalism in the past—are any of those reporters still around? How much money has US Sugar/King Ranch funneled to Southwest Florida officials; how many of them have been on the famous luxury hunting trips to Texas; and what role is US Sugar/King Ranch playing in local political campaign management? Come on, let’s clean our own house before the feds have to once again step in and do it for us.
Tuesday, August 5, 2014
In My Opinion
Carl Hiaasen: Bought and paid for with a Texas hunting trip
By Carl Hiaasen
Festival of Whores (continued):
Back when he first ran for governor as a self-styled outsider, Rick Scott lambasted his opponent in the Republican primary for taking campaign money from U.S. Sugar, one of the worst corporate polluters of the Everglades.
Scott indignantly squeaked that Bill McCollum had been “bought and paid for” by U.S. Sugar. He said the company’s support of McCollum was “disgusting.”
“I can’t be bought,” Scott declared.
Seriously, that’s what the man said. Stop gagging and read on.
Four years later, the governor’s re-election campaign is hungrily raking in money from U.S. Sugar, more than $534,000 so far.
Exactly when Scott overcame his disgust isn’t clear, but in February 2013 he and undisclosed others jetted to the King Ranch in Texas for a hog- and deer-hunting junket on U.S. Sugar’s 30,000-acre lease.
Apparently this has become a secret tribal rite for some top Florida Republicans. Exposed last week by reporters Craig Pittman and Michael Van Sickler of the Tampa Bay Times, the politicians ran like jackrabbits for the hills.
All questions were redirected to the state Republican Party, which couldn’t get its story straight. “Fundraising” wound up as the official explanation for the free pig-shooting sorties.
Scott refused to field questions about the King Ranch shindig. A spokesman said the governor covered his own air flight and hunting license.
Days later, a bit more information: Scott shot a buck deer on the trip, his flak said, and paid the taxidermist out of his own pocket. What a guy!
A month after his secret safari, the governor appointed an executive of King Ranch’s Florida agricultural holdings to the board of the South Florida Water Management District, the agency supposedly supervising the Everglades cleanup.
The inner circle, you see, goes unbroken.
Agriculture Secretary Adam Putnam was so mortified to be asked about his King Ranch excursions that he slithered behind a door that was then shut in a reporter’s face. Slick move. Putnam is the same social butterfly who once criticized the state law forbidding elected officeholders from accepting gifts like free trips, booze and meals. Putnam lamented that the ban was “a disincentive for fellowship.”
Thwarting the statutory gift ban has been accomplished by letting the political parties operate as money launderers for special interests. U.S. Sugar, for example, gives tons of cash to the Republican Party of Florida, which then spreads it around to Scott, Putnam and other candidates for purported political expenses.
The King Ranch, which has its own sugar and cattle holdings in Florida, has also hosted GOP House Appropriations Chair Seth McKeel and Dean Cannon when he was House Speaker.
The current House Speaker, Will Weatherford, and the incoming speaker, Steve Crisafulli, have both received Texas hunting licenses, although they won’t say if they’ve been to the King spread.
Florida has an abundance of deer and wild hogs, but an out-of-state safari offers the appeal of seclusion and anonymity. Interestingly, no Republican senators or Democratic leaders appear to have participated in the King Ranch flyouts. Former Gov. Charlie Crist, Scott’s likely opponent in November, has taken contributions from Big Sugar, but said he’s never been to the ranch.
Buying off politicians with hunting and fishing trips is an old tradition in Tallahassee, interrupted by the occasional embarrassing headline followed by flaccid stabs at reform.
Nobody believes the absurd GOP party line saying that the King Ranch hunting jaunts are “fundraisers.” They’re just free (or heavily discounted) vacations.
You really can’t blame Big Sugar or its lobbyists. They know who and what they’re dealing with; the only issue is the price.
The company has given more than $2.2 million to Republican candidates in the 2014 election cycle, and there’s no reason to believe it won’t get its money’s worth.
Taxpayers, not the sugar tycoons, remain stuck with most of the cost of cleaning up the Everglades. Every time someone tries to make the polluters pay a larger share, the idea gets snuffed in Tallahassee.
Meanwhile the politicians who could make it happen are partying in Texas with the polluters — shootin’ at critters, smokin’ cigars, sippin’ bourbon around the fire. Hell, maybe there’s even a steam bath.
These are the people controlling the fate of the Everglades. They’ve been bought and paid for, just like Rick Scott said four years ago. Now he’s one of them. His staff won’t say why he changed his mind about taking Big Sugar’s money. It also won’t say where he put the stuffed head of that buck he killed at the King Ranch.
The bathroom wall would be a fitting place, hanging right over the toilet where he flushed his integrity