Saturday, June 17, 2017

“POINT OF VIEW: Water managers are good at keeping public land public”.

Newton E. Cook, an officer and executive director of the United Waterfowlers Florida (UW-F) had this “Point of View” (POV) published in The Palm Beach Post yesterday (two excerpts below).

About UW-F:

United Waterfowlers Florida fights for the rights of all waterfowlers throughout the state of Florida.
     UW-F is the VOICE of Florida duck hunters in numerous meetings and hearings across Florida. We take a three-tiered approach to improving duck hunting by focusing on conservation, access, and legacy.

A little background: On June 9th happened to come across a press release from the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) and posted the news on this blog: “Additional recreational acres in western Palm Beach County”. What happened next was astounding. My blog went off the charts, and also interestingly, did not receive one single negative comment or even a nasty email.

However, because of this POV by Mr. Cook, tomorrow’s Sunday Post will almost certainly have a contrarian-POV by either Drew Martin or maybe even one of “The 19 Best Environmentalists in South Florida”. Stay tuned, as they say.

Without further ado, two excerpts from Mr. Cook published in the Post:

People flock to the Sunshine State to enjoy the abundant opportunities to enjoy Florida’s natural lands and waters. However, if properties have a “No trespassing” or “Closed to the public” sign, citizens and visitors are prevented access. These closures are particularly vexing on public lands paid for by taxpayers. Floridians and visitors want generous access to Florida’s public land. The word you hear at the public meetings on recreation opportunities are, “access, access, access.” [emphasis added]
     I applaud the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) Governing Board for members’ decision during the June 8 meeting to open the new 17,000-acre EAA 1 Flow Equalization Basin (FEB) in Palm Beach County to public access a year earlier than usual following completion of construction.

and. . .

     Currently, 86 percent of district land is open to the public for a wide mix of recreational activities.
     The SFWMD constructs parking, kiosks, camping areas, wildlife viewing decks, restroom facilities, boat ramps, corrals and many other improvements for visitors. However, the most important offering is the simple “Open to the Public” signs found at the SFWMD gates.
     Other government agencies should look to the SFWMD for an example of how to manage the taxpayer-owned natural lands in their care. Too much land in government control has restrictive rules regarding access for the public.