Monday, April 20, 2009

Take Urgent Action for Earth Day to Protect Manatee Habitat

manatee entangled Take Urgent Action for Earth Day

Protect
Manatee Habitat
A manatee rests at Blue Spring.
(Photo © Walker Stanberry)


Hi Shanti,

Your immediate action is urgently needed now to prevent bills from being passed that will harm the environment and jeopardize the health and welfare of our citizens, endangered manatees, and our unique wildlife.

In a few days, Americans will be celebrating Earth Day, but with so much proposed legislation on the table that undermines environmental protection, we wonder if there will be anything to celebrate about! That's why we need your help.

Mother manatee and calf
A mother manatee and calf. The calf bears propeller scars from a boat hit.
(Photo © Walker Stanberry)

We are about two weeks from the end of the Florida Legislative Session and developers, along with many legislators, are hard at work trying to weaken Florida's permitting process claiming government regulation is causing them economic hardship. However, a March 20th editorial in The Miami Herald had this to say, "Speculation-fueled development, not government regulation, is what caused Florida's economic downfall."

Our Tallahassee Advocacy Team is also hard at work trying to prevent these bad bills from becoming law, but this battle does not come cheap. Please make a donation now and be as generous as you can be so we can continue to be a strong voice for endangered manatee and habitat protection.

Developers have introduced bills that reduce their responsibilities for adverse impacts to the environment, leaving it to taxpayers to subsidize their profit-making actions. It will be the taxpayers who will pay for the cost of growth, like schools and roadways, if developers have their way. They want to make it easier to build more homes in wetlands, destroy more seagrasses, and put wildlife and water quality at greater risk, even though there are now more than 300,000 homes in Florida standing vacant.

Manatee
(Photo © Walker Stanberry)

For instance, many legislators are in favor of a bill introduced by Senator Mike Bennett (R-Bradenton) to weaken Florida's Department of Community Affairs (DCA), the chief agency in the state that regulates growth, by either abolishing or reorganizing the agency and cutting staff that review proposed changes to local growth plans. According to a March 23rd editorial in the Orlando Sentinel, "Far from being a cumbersome, redundant bureaucracy, DCA often is the only backstop to local governments running roughshod over those growth plans and other laws intended to guard the state's imperiled wildlife, watersheds, and environmental jewels."

Please click here for yet more bills that weaken natural resource protection.

This is not the first time -- nor will it be the last -- that developers have tried to "streamline" the permitting process so they can enjoy yet more profits from destroying environmentally sensitive lands with fewer regulations to safeguard our natural resources. "Streamlining" is really another word for "derailing" environmental protection!

Just in the last two years, with your financial support, Save the Manatee Club:

  • Helped to defeat a bill limiting the protection of fresh water springs, and another bill that would have allowed a Naples, Florida developer to build a project that would have harmed many manatees.
  • Opposed draft state rules for: general permits for dredging in Lee County, Florida; and for boat ramp development, both of which would have eliminated in-depth scientific reviews.
  • Led efforts that stopped a 500-slip commercial marina from being built in a sensitive state aquatic preserve.
  • Continues to review individual proposed permits for shoreline development to ensure that sufficient manatee and habitat protection measures are included in the permits.
On Earth Day, let's have something to really cheer about! Help us stop these bad bills from becoming law. Show your support for manatees and their aquatic habitat -- which is also the habitat for wading birds, sea turtles, dolphins, otters, and myriad fish and invertebrate species -- by taking action now. UPDATE: bills protecting springs and seagrasses that Save the Manatee Club supports are still moving through the legislative process with help from you and our Tallahassee Advocacy Team.

Please do two things immediately:

  1. Send an urgent online letter to Florida Governor Charlie Crist and let him know that you are depending on him to veto any bills that weaken environmental protection and/or state agencies that regulate growth. Please check back after the legislative session ends in early May for any further action you may need to take.

  2. Make a donation now, in honor of Earth Day, so we can continue to protect manatees and their habitat for future generations, and please be as generous as you can be.
Thank you so much for your help on this Earth Day and every day!

For the manatees,
Patrick Rose
Patrick Rose, Aquatic Biologist
Executive Director



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