|The President’s Hoot|
by Richard H. Baker, Ph.D.
Over 2,300 signed petitions against the Oslo Road boat ramp dredge and fill project presented to our county commissioners on September 23. More than 100 protesters demonstrated in front of the commission chambers. Anglers from the Coastal Conservation Association, fishing guides, boaters from the Power Squadron and kayak renters, Tea Party, Marine Resources Council, Save the Manatee Club, Sierra Club, and Audubon members, and scientists filled the chambers.
Speakers raised serious questions about this expansion, which will seriously impact the lush seagrass and highly productive mangrove fish nursery that will disturb this very peaceful place. What a sad example of a total failure of our county, state, and federal agencies to protect our environment.
Hearing the strong opposition and speakers each week, the commissioners decided to bring in county and St. Johns River Water Management District staff on October 7 to “educate the public!”
Please join us at the county commission meeting, Tuesday, October 7th, at 8:30 am, to help us protect the lagoon from further harm. You don’t have to speak, just be there with family, fishing buddies, friends and fellow birders to hold a protest sign. See our website http://www.pelicanislandaudubon.org for letters, articles, and actions taken, and sign our petition.
question EVERYONE has is
“Why is the county spending $1,000,000 in local taxes dredging a 210 ft. channel…
- if it is not about allowing larger boats (eventually) to use the ramp? Small boats do fine with existing shallow depths.
- in an area with the only seagrass left in our county.
- harming the best critical habitat for spotted seatrout, red drum, snook and tarpon nurseries?
- in a Federal Shellfish Area that by law is not allowed without granting an exception?
- next to an aquatic preserve and surrounded by a conservation area and bird rookery?
- where wading fishers and small boats have gone for the last 70-1,000 years?
- violating the county’s own Manatee Protection Plan?
- causing more traffic, thus more manatee deaths in the county’s largest manatee area?
- producing 210 feet more for muck to accumulate, ruining the water and beauty?
Why spend $1,000,000 paving and expanding the parking lot and road 25-42 feet into healthy mangroves…
- for 12 boat trailers when county survey shows 9 boat trailers is average?
- removing 1.4 acres of healthy mangroves nursery for snook, but mitigating 18 acres with no snook?
- when the existing road has not harmed seagrasses for the last 50 years?
- adding more oil, grease, rubber and pollution running off the impervious surface?
- when the county has nearly twice the number of public boat ramps needed to meet State recommendations?
- installing NO PARKING signs along Oslo Road when not needed?
- When nearby are Riverside Park has a wide boat ramp, two 40 ft. docks, 28 paved boat trailer parking spaces, bathroom, picnic tables, drinking fountains and outdoor shower and MacWilliams Park with four boat ramps and 10 parking spaces?
Why spend $1,000,000 on a project when Commissioners refuse to have an open hearing to discuss the boat ramp with the public while the economic and ecological health of the lagoon is dying?
Why Oslo when you can spend $1,000,000 at other locations with fewer natural resources, low manatee abundance, low manatee mortality, less seagrass beds, no fish nurseries, and no mangrove destruction, or you can spend the $1,000,000 on many other needs for our county?
It makes no sense. Not just an environmental problem, but also a social, economic, and moral problem for our county, state, nation, and world. Recently, citizens have not spoken out FOR this harmful dredge and fill project, and commissioners have not provided any valid reasons to do it. Why do it?
See you October 7 at the county commission chambers, 8:30 am for the public rally!