Southeast Volusia Audubon Society, P.O. Box 46, New Smyrna Beach, FL 32170;

October 2015 Prez Sez

On behalf of the executive committee, welcome  to another active season of the Southeast Volusia Audubon Society.  We have a very interesting set of programs for your edification and enjoyment as well as some exciting field trips.  Check out the Meetings page and the Field Trips page for particulars. Come and join us as we learn more about our environment. As always, if you have any suggestions, please let me know.  It is your club.

Let’s review some of the things that have happened since we last met, courtesy of the Florida Conservation Coalition:

Governor Rick Scott used Amendment 1 funds to pay fines resulting from a legal action against him regarding the purchase of land adjacent to the executive mansion.

The state received 59 applications nationally to interview for the DEP position. But, at the Cabinet’s meeting on June 23, Governor Scott said the only candidate he felt was worthy of an interview was Steverson, the acting chief.  After Steverson was formalized, he said that state parks need to pay for themselves.  He put forth the  “Optimized Land Management and Cost Recovery” proposal which included a number of “action plans,” including leasing out park land to cellphone tower operators and cattle and timber interests and even to open up parks to hunters.

After a lot of public pushback, he mollified his position. Maybe he was reminded about the spat over the golf courses in parks a few years ago.

As reported by the Miami Herald: “A political insider who served as general counsel to Gov. Rick Scott will take over the state’s largest water management district. On Thursday, the South Florida Water Management District’s governing board named Pete Antonacci to run the sprawling agency after announcing that executive director Blake Guillory, an engineer, would resign at the end of the month...Guillory’s resignation follows a contentious summer in which the board flip-flopped on a tax cut.”

According to the Gainesville Sun: “The Suwannee River Water Management District Governing Board has picked a Gov. Rick Scott administration official as  the district’s new executive director. With no discussion Tuesday, the board unanimously selected Noah Valenstein, Scott’s environmental policy  ordinator, as executive director.” reports that Robert Spottswood, a Key West native and president of the Spottswood Companies, Inc., was named by Gov. Rick Scott to fill a vacant position on the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission's board of directors.  His company is a real estate development and management company.  He is also an attorney and certified public accountant. Spottswood and his company gave $13,000 to Scott's “Let's Get to Work Committee” in the 2014 campaign, and he gave an additional $3,000 to Scott's re-election campaign," according to the Miami Herald.

Obviously, there is no expectation that having a science or engineering background would be useful in these positions.

And closer to home, in Flagler County, reports: “With scant prior discussion at the Tourist Development Council and no prior discussion at the county commission or the county’s parks and recreation board — and of course no discussion with the Princess Place Citizens Support Organization, which the county disbanded about a year ago — the county administration and Matt Dunn, the county’s tourism chief, have been working out an agreement to turn over the Princess Place Preserve next March to Spartan Race Inc., an extreme sports organization that has already been collecting registrations and revenue for a massive race at the preserve in March.

The hyper-endurance race, called the “Jacksonville Super at Palm Coast,” entails turning the preserve into an 8 to 10-mile race course with 24 to 29  “natural” and artificial obstacles that radically alter the landscape and by Spartan’s own description “may cause substantial wear and tear.” The obstacle courses include barbed wire, scalable walls, mud—though Dunn says mud pits will not be part of this course—fire jumps, tire drags, traverse walls, carrying heavy loads of one sort or another and other obstacles.

Organizers hope to attract 6,000 racers and 2,000 spectators.”

After many emails, including from us, the group decided to reject this activity.

With all these actions going on that are contrary to good stewardship of our resources and environment, we need to be on constant alert.  I urge you to keep up with the news by subscribing to the Florida Conservation Coalition’s newsletter.

Happy birding.