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DeSoto, Hardee, Highlands, Polk and Sumter counties of Florida

   

Explore, Enjoy and Protect The Planet

 


September 2003 Newsletter Articles

Say No To Duck Hunting On The Circle B Bar Reserve
Outings Past, Pat’s Adventure With Richard
From the Vice Chair . . . Bob Taylor
Transportation Bill Presents Big Challenges For Environment

Say No To Duck Hunting On The Circle B Bar Reserve

The management plan for the Circle B Bar Reserve on Lake Hancock is tentatively scheduled to come before the Polk County Board of County Commissioners for formal action in October. Now is the time for us to speak our minds about the possibility of duck hunting on the soon to be restored internal marsh.

A meeting to solicit public input for desired uses on the Reserve showed that those in attendance did not want hunting on the site as it would conflict with preferred uses like hiking, bird watching, picnic pavilions, a wildlife observation tower, canoe launch and a future environmental education center.

The Circle B Bar Reserve will quickly become Polk's most popular environmental land because of its central location between Bartow, Winter Haven and Lakeland. Hunting will compromise a significant reason for acquisition - the outstanding wildlife viewing opportunities. Hunting would also create public safety issues and occur from September to January, the cooler time of year that attracts other users.

The latest sales figures from the Fish And Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWCC) show that in FY 01-02 only 587 waterfowl permits were sold in Polk County - that represents just 0.12% of Polk's population (483,924 U.S. Bureau of the Census 2000). An economic benefit study by the FWCC of Florida's fish and wildlife related recreation statewide in 2000 showed that wildlife viewing exceeds hunting and fishing combined in the generation of retail sales, sales tax revenues and economic impact. More than 1 out of every 5 state residents are wildlife viewers and spend an average of $696 annually on trip related and equipment expenditures.

Lake Hancock (4,500+ acres) is currently available for duck hunting. There is no need to compromise the use and enjoyment of the Circle B Bar Reserve for the huge majority of citizens by allowing duck hunting to occur there. Let your county commissioners know how you feel. Call, write or e-mail them today.
* Neil Combee can be reached at 534-6049 or neilcombee@polk-county.net
* Don Gifford can be reached at 534-6450 or dongifford@polk-county.net
* Jack Myers can be reached at 534-6050 or jackmyers@polk-county.net
* Charles Richardson can be reached at 534-6422 or charlesrichardson@polk-county.net
* Randy Wilkinson can be reached at 534-6434 or randywilkinson@polk-county.net
You can also write your comments and send them to individual commissioners at: Drawer BC01, P.O. Box 9005, Bartow FL 33831-9005.
...Marian Ryan

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Outings Past, Pat’s Adventure With Richard

Back in the late '70's, Richard Coleman, Harlan Herbert and John Edscorn combined to fight the Kissimmee being ditched into a canal and killed as a free-flowing river. They put together a slide and tape show, "Death of a River. It was attention-grabbing, effective and influential; was both fact-filled and emotional and included the Oklawaha and the Everglades in its scope. Lake Region Audubon and Florida Audubon showed it all over the state. Harlan Herbert was elected "chapter president of the year" for Florida Audubon because of it. (Slide show is now on this website.)

Richard Coleman went ahead persevering for the next decade to assure and establish the restoration of the Kissimmee. This was the first ever restoration of a river in the whole world - an amazing accomplishment politically and environmentally. It was before Sierra Club had established groups in Florida, but it steered Richard to Sierra, which had chosen to be active, rather than deductible. Sierra could lobby and influence events.

We got to know Richard well and that was how I came to be in the bow of Richard's canoe on Blackwater Creek. We took two strokes and those were almost the last for an hour. We were suddenly in the current. A bush was ahead and I had to guide the bow around it. Then another and another and reactions were instinctive. Richard, in the stern, was keeping the canoe lined up with the current. If we turned across the current, the canoe would instantly fill with water and we would be swamped! The paddle was no longer paddling. It was an extension of my arm to push us away from shrubbery. We were hurtling downstream and the half-swamped shrubs were everywhere. There was no time to think. I just reacted and somehow we never became entangled "Duck!" Richard had yelled suddenly when he knew I did not see a branch hanging down from a larger tree. Right. Left. Straight. But never sideways.

Then Richard surprised me. He knew the creek. “There's a bridge around the bend. We go under it and then pull off to the left." I wondered how we could, but the channel widened and the current lessened and we were then outside its grasp. Another surprise! As we angled into a small cove past the bridge, dear Richard announced, "This is where I stashed the food last night!" Sure enough, a box under the bridge had French bread rolls, cheese to slice and a warm beer for Richard. My water was in the canoe. As I munched happily and drank my water, I thought, "Anytime with Richard is an Experience."
...Pat Herbert, Executive Committee Member, Polk Group

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FROM THE VICE CHAIR . . . Bob Taylor

When our chair, Karen Kaplan, requested that we open our meeting with a moment of silence in memory of Richard Coleman, my thoughts crept back in time to that day during my sophomore year in high school when I was first introduced to William Cullen Bryant's poem, “Thanatopsis”. The first few lines read:

"TO HIM who in the love of Nature holds
Communion with her visible forms, she speaks
A various language; for his gayer hours
She has a voice of gladness, and a smile
And eloquence of beauty, and she glides
Into his darker musings, with a mild
And healing sympathy, that steals away
Their sharpness, ere he is aware."

I'm not sure exactly how the tangled synapses of mind managed to retrieve data stored so long ago but the words seem so appropriate when reflecting on the nature of a man who loved and communed so often with Mother Nature, and who strove so hard to protect Her treasures. I guess that this also proves that high school English is a more useful subject than I thought at the time.

Poet Bryan concludes this poem by admonishing us to:

"So live, that when thy summons comes join
The innumerable caravan which moves
To that mysterious realm, where each shall take
His chamber in the silent halls of death,
Thou go not, like the quarry-slave at night,
Scourged to his dungeon, but, sustained and soothed
By an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave
Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch
About him, and lies down to pleasant dreams."

Richard Coleman, in my view, lived such a life. I hope that all who knew him will join me in wishing for him those pleasant dreams as we thank him for all that he did for the world around us, and as we recommit our selves to carrying on the causes that he so effectively espoused.

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Transportation Bill Presents Big Challenges For Environment
Legislation could erase decades of progress...or build on successes

In the coming months, Congress will pass a mammoth transportation bill which could either continue moving transportation priorities in the direction of smart growth, or take us backward toward a narrow focus on road-building and promoting more sprawl. We are especially concerned that environmental reviews and public involvement processes that help protect communities may be dramatically weakened.

TEA-3, as the federal transportation bill is now termed, will guide spending over the next 6 years to the tune of $250 - $375 billion. The last transportation bill, passed in 1998, was $217 billion. Because the funding authorization runs out on September 30, 2003, Congressional committees are working this summer to draft a new bill. However, some in Congress want to use TEA-3 to undo many of the gains made during the last decade.

Because the wrong transportation choices can result in dangerous impacts on air and water quality, public health, our natural and historical heritage and quality of life, it is critical to make our priorities known to Congress in the coming few weeks. September is the critical month to give your input on this legislation.

Top priorities for TEA-3:

No “gutting” of the environmental and public review processes, which offer protections for communities, parks, wetlands, wildlife refuges, historic sites, and more. The Bush administration and some Congressional leaders have proposed damaging proposals that would gut the environmental review provisions outlined in the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and remove the protections on parklands, historical sites, wildlife refuges and other environmentally sensitive areas.

Don’t weaken clean air protections. As asthma rates and respiratory ailments continue to rise around the country, and the health threats of bad air, especially for children and seniors, grow annually, we cannot allow any deterioration of our clean air protections.

Protect and Grow the Transit Program. In order to build upon the gains in mass transit over the last decade and promote alternatives to sprawl, we must insist on the following:

Oppose a crippling proposal by Senators Max Baucus (D-MT) and Charles Grassley (R-IA), which would raid the transit fund in order to bolster the highway fund. Maintain a level playing field between the transit and highway programs. Currently, states and localities must pay for 20 percent of new transit and highway projects, while the federal government pays 80 percent. The Bush Administration wants to require states to come up with 50% of the cost for new transit, setting a prohibitive threshold to get new projects started for the least affluent communities who would need it the most. At the same time, however, the Bush proposal maintains an 80-20 federal-state split for road projects. Effectively, communities that are trying to solve transportation needs would be encouraged to build roads not transit. This would be a devastating change in policy that would only create more sprawl and greater air pollution.

Because the transportation bill is only authorized every six years, it is a massive piece of legislation with only a narrow window of opportunity for us to influence the outcome. Once this bill passes, the next opportunity to influence federal transportation priorities will be 2009.

Please contact your Senators and Representative and ask them to prioritize public transit, public health, and the environment, and to let them know that TEA-3 should not be used to weaken public involvement in transportation planning or the environmental review processes. The victims of a bad TEA-3 bill will be our air and water, the health of our children and seniors, those individuals without access to cars, and those with respiratory ailments.

Contact information for your congressional delegation may be found at: www.congress.org

For more information about TEA-3, please visit: www.sierraclub.org/spraw
...Eric Olson and Neha Bhatt,
Sierra Club Challenge to Sprawl Campaign, www.sierraclub.org/sprawll

   

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Blackwater Creek

 

masthead picture: Blackwater Creek
Blackwater Creek circa 1970

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