Let’s Preserve our Precious Wetlands


by: Davis Yancy Clegg

 

Intracoastal Fernandina Beach

 

For the longest period of time, waterways all around the globe were thought of in only one light. Littering and playing ignorant to all the ecosystems affected by man’s actions has led us to a point that no longer allows us to claim ignorance. The wetlands in northeast Florida were once thought of as nothing more than economically stunted areas in need of reclamation. So, in the 1990’s, a series of canals and levees were built. These ditches had a sole purpose: to drain the wetlands, making way for economic opportunities. Agriculture and urban development projects took precedent over the protection of Florida’s wetlands. In fact, since Florida became a state in 1845, over 70 percent of the wetlands have been converted into projects like the aforementioned. It’s an incredibly easy philanthropic ploy to talk about changing things, and to make promises to expand the conversation regarding our environmental woes and pending efforts. Yet, action isn’t always taken. Ernest Hemingway gave us quite a few “real talk” moments throughout his life. He once wrote, “Do sober what you say you will do when you are drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut!” While alcohol is not likely the most determinant factor regarding our lack of environmental awareness and activism, too many empty promises are made by both private citizens and government agencies.

Sunset at Fernandina BeachIt goes without saying, one hundred years is quite a long time. We are far better informed about pollution and environmental protection than the chaps that set out to destroy the wetlands in the name of progress. Nowadays, we have begun to grasp just how important the wetlands are to the nourishment of the indigenous Floridian wildlife, water quality and the economic flow into our communities from tourism dollars – many of which come from tourists in search of the perfect marsh-framed sunset snapshot.

Even though it took the better part of a century, notice has finally begun to be taken, and actions have followed suit. What have we learned? Well, when we allow our wetlands to be deteriorated in such ways, the effects are compounded over time. Many of these are not only irreversible, but the devastation that ensues as a result doesn’t end, even in the event we were to cease destroying them. Progress is quite poorly defined. Profit and progress are not synonymous. The conversion of wetlands into developed urban areas has resulted in a number of negative impacts on the environment as a whole. Things like increased rate of erosion, storm water retention ineffectiveness, wildlife habitat destruction and the slowed release of nutrients needed to sustain the countless ecosystems crucial to the area have all occurred as a direct result of wetland destruction.

As the 1980’s came to a close, President Bush – “H” – vowed that there would be “no net loss of wetlands.” Presidents that would follow would keep this promise as a cornerstone of their campaigning. Even still, in the few short years between 1990 and 2005, nearly eighty-five thousand acres of wetlands were lost in the St. Johns area alone. That’s almost 6,000 acres a year. Florida’s flat terrain and sea level positioning puts the 11 million acres of wetlands well beyond the other 47 states that share the continental boundary. Let us not take the abundance for granted. We only have one Earth – and only so many acres of wetlands – to lose.

 

The perfect place to enjoy and learn about our Eco system is to join us on one of our popular Shrimping Eco Tours. You will learn all kinds of great things about our environment. (… continue)

 

 

 

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