LETTER: We should continue buying land

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  • | 7:01 a.m. April 23, 2015
LETTER: Ocoee: Beware of coyotes, bears
LETTER: Ocoee: Beware of coyotes, bears
  • West Orange Times & Observer
  • Opinion
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Dear Editor:

Our opinions and beliefs about Amendment 1 and conservation in general are, for the most part, opposite. I do feel, however, we can disagree and discuss the issue with civility.

The organization of a program to pass Amendment 1 should not have been necessary. We had a good program that used a portion of the doc stamps to buy land until it was conveyed to the general fund by our governor, who is not noted for his environmental sensitivity. Many efforts by groups of all sizes to restore the program were ignored. 

The decision to make it a constitutional amendment was the only apparent direction we could take. The 75% vote was, to me, a clear proof that the majority wanted it.

While I certainly don’t condone anything similar to communism, the fact is that private protection of larger important tracts of land cannot be operated by individuals. The most massive pollution problems were owned by corporations, which have polluted huge areas of Florida on both coasts and by the farm cooperatives that polluted our 31,000-acre Lake Apopka and another 20,000 acres of marshland that is one of the largest migratory waterfowl refuges in the world.

We are not promoting the acquisition of land just to save it. We have specific criteria for selecting parcels: habitat for declining populations of plants and animals; protection of water recharge areas; CO2 uptake; etc. The list is long, but there are criteria for acquisition.

My studies in Madagascar show what can happen to an entire population when we do not protect the environment: massive erosion throughout; major pollution of all natural water bodies; no safe drinking water; loss of unique flora and fauna that was a major ecotourism market now in total decline.

Florida already faces a major drinking water issue with our aquifer continuing to decline. We also face continuing air pollution and transportation issues as we continue to build more roads. With more than 850 people per day moving to Florida, our natural resources will continue to decline, and larger numbers of permanent residents are predicted for the future. 

It is my opinion that what lands we acquire in the next few years will be all we have in the future.

Jim Thomas

founder, Friends of Lake Apopka

Winter Garden


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