If you visit the website of 1000 Friends of Florida, a not for profit, smart growth advocacy organizations founded in 1986, you will see that their Mission promotes vibrant, sustainable, walkable, livable communities which provide residents with affordable housing choices and transportation alternatives. They work to protect natural lands that cleanse and store fresh water needed for residents, agriculture and the environment, provide refuge for wildlife, and support abundant recreational opportunities for residents and visitors alike. More importantly, they strive to give citizens a meaningful role in shaping the futures of their communities and state.
In August, the 1000 Friends of Florida, along with its partners, Apalachicola Riverkeeper, Defenders of Wildlife, Florida Defenders of the Environment, Florida Springs Council, Florida Springs Institute, Florida Wildlife Corridor, Florida Wildlife Federation and League of Women Voters of Florida released “Trouble in Paradise.” This report shares with Florida elected officials and candidates for office six key environmental issues facing our state and strategies to address them.
In the introduction of the report, it states Trouble in Paradise “is the work product of deeply concerned members of the Florida environmental community who wish to help elected officials and candidates for office better understand six major statewide environmental issues impacting Florida’s natural resources and our residents’ quality of life. Reflecting that ‘one size does not fit all’ this report also identifies four of Florida’s many resource areas meriting specialized treatment.”
It continues, “Every candidate for statewide office, the Legislature, and Congress should be aware of these major environmental issues and be willing to respond with decisive action.”
The six priority statewide environmental issues needing immediate attention are: land conservation, managing water supply, water conservation, water quality, growth management and climate change. The four of Florida’s resource areas the report considers especially endangered and meriting specialized treatment include: the Everglades, Lake Okeechobee, the Indian River Lagoon, Apalachicola River and Bay and the peninsula’s natural springs.
Having provided the position paper to incumbents and challengers on the Nov. 6 ballot for Congress, governor, the Cabinet and the state Legislature, the coalition held a media conference on September 19th, where they appealed to Florida’s voters to support their efforts to get all levels of government to assume more responsibility for protecting the state’s natural resources. They suggested tougher regulations as well as incentives to get the public and private sectors to alter habits and practices that threaten the environment.
The coalition issued a call to citizens be aware of the report’s findings, to question the candidates, use social media to spread the word and use the November 6 ballot to elect leaders who are committed to implementing positive change for the environment. Action does not end at the election they say it needs to be followed up by attendance at public meeting of state legislative delegations and local governments to keep environmental protections on their agendas.
The closing sentence of the Trouble in Paradise report is: “Our quality of life and Florida’s very economy depend on it.”
To read the full report go to: troubleinparadiseflorida.org/