When will we listen?

In the past week, we saw two unfortunate interactions between people and black bears on both sides of Volusia County. 

These human-bear contacts are increasingly frequent occurrences in Central Florida, and, when they happen, things never end well. 

For the bear, that is. 

In my view, the idea of paving over wildlife habitat to make way for another damnable strip center, wood frame apartment complex, or theme housing development, then destroying bears who have become desensitized to the trappings of human beings, wild animals with nowhere to go, is wrong – epitomizing the arrogance of those who don’t give two-shits about preserving our natural places and sensitive ecosystems – choosing instead to profit from destroying habitat and killing off any wildlife that stands in their way.

As a young man I enjoyed deer hunting – more for the social aspect of sitting around camp enjoying the company of friends – or spending time with my late father on traditional dove hunts in South Georgia, learning from the yarns spun by my elders, as copious amounts of good bourbon were sipped in front of a roaring fireplace on cool fall evenings. 

From experience, I can report that there are few things more rewarding than spending time in the woods at daybreak, quietly attuned to the sights and sounds of nature all around, watching the grace and majesty of wild animals in their natural habitat. 

Unfortunately, almost to the acre, the forests and swamps where I enjoyed nature in my youth have been paved over – making way for “theme” communities where speculative developers have created an escapist façade for retirees seeking to live out an artificial lifestyle that no longer exists – pine scrub and hardwood forest ground into a black muck, the wetlands drained and filled, now chockfull of zero-lot-line wood frame cracker boxes from the “low $300’s” serviced by godawful half-empty strip centers. 

And We, The Little People – hapless rubes led to believe the “system” still serves us – watch helplessly as glib real estate attorneys, powerful developers, and marketing shills smooth off the rough edges – ensuring more “inventory” for the never-ending influx on the I-95 conveyor as we transition from subdivisions and gated communities to “Cities within a City.” 

My God.

The out-of-control overdevelopment of Volusia County is no longer an exercise in shaping growth – the art and science of planning neighborhoods, revitalizing downtowns, enhancing civic assets, ensuring adequate transportation and utilities infrastructure, making room for cultural and creative space, while preserving our historic places.

Now, those quaint ideas have been replaced by the disastrous idea of growth at all costs – which has resulted in the endless spread of placeless sprawl and the wholesale destruction of our remaining greenspace – further separating communities by income and demographic, all conveniently rubberstamped by malleable politicians all too eager to please their benefactors. 

With $1 of every $5 contributed to select Volusia County political campaigns in recent races originating from real estate development interests – prove me wrong.  

In a recent article in the Palm Beach Post, we learned that the State of Florida is considering increasing fines on developers who steam over gopher tortoise burrows as the cost of rehoming the endangered animals “…outpaces penalties for burying them alive.”

Estimates show the cost of “rehoming” a single gopher tortoise is now between $5,000 and $6,000 – while fines for destroying a burrow remains at a paltry $500 plus court costs. 

You read that right.

According to the disturbing report:

“Last year, housing giant Pulte Group paid $13,790 after pleading guilty to annihilating 22 burrows on land slated for an age-restricted community in Marion County.

At the Pulte site, investigators found a juvenile gopher tortoise that had been cut in half “by something large, presumably heavy equipment,” as noted in a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission report. Another tortoise was spotted digging in a machine cleared area “attempting to repair its collapsed burrow.”

With malignant growth churning habitat into a moonscape across the width and breadth of the Sunshine State, last year, the Florida Wildlife Commission issued just 118 warnings and 49 citations statewide for gopher tortoise violations. . . 

Now, paving over a threatened species or cutting them in half with heavy equipment has become the cost of doing business.  In short, gopher tortoises, black bears, whitetail deer, and other species lost out to the voracious greed of speculative developers who hold the political paper on the souls of the craven politicians who facilitate it.

To ameliorate their guilt and mitigate the political damage – the same elected officials who rubberstamp land use changes and literally pave the way for more “planned unit developments” and industrial warehouses that interface with residential neighborhoods, pouring traffic onto already congested roadways – beat their chest and crow about “wildlife corridors,” narrow patches of contiguous natural space that allow wild animals a chance to run, fly, or swim from the vice-like growth that is rapidly destroying their last remaining habitat in the perverse name of “progress.” 

Bullshit.

In my view, the 2022 election cycle is our opportunity to purge these blowholes from the dais of power – those who asked for our sacred vote – then did nothing to address the destruction of our natural places, voted to approve more, more, more growth and sprawl, while shrugging their shoulders and telling us “there’s nothing we can do,” allowing “growth management” bureaucrats to run interference for developers in a tragic tail wagging the dog scenario they think we are too stupid to see through.

It is not hard to figure out a candidates allegiances.

Rather than listen to what they say – simply read their campaign finance reports – and review the record of how incumbents voted while in office.

In my view, if we leave these same compromised assholes at the helm – there will be no end to the cancerous sprawl that is metastasizing like tumors along the spine of Volusia County from Farmton to the Flagler County line. 

We cannot say we were not warned. 

The gopher tortoises and black bears did everything possible to get our attention.

When will we listen to them?

7 thoughts on “When will we listen?

  1. I’m in total agreement dude. Poor critters won’t have a place to call home soon – most of them have already had to move due to these asshat’s greed.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It is much about priorities, planning, fighting to keep the process in the sunshine, on track, and followed with the same rules for everyone. We should have put some thought into ECHO before we approved it and ECHO should have been part of a MUCH larger strategic plan that would truly have helped save our outdoor spaces and environment. Sit back and watch as our ECHO funds are pilfered by the County Council with the blessings of many on the ECHO committee through Volusia’s own version of Pork Barrel funding, many are already lined up at the trough and ready to gorge on our tax dollars. And as is repeated often, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”. Before ECHO was even approved we started repeating the same mistakes of the past with the program and those of us who were fighting for planning, accountability, and transparency have been pushed to the side, ridiculed, and much has been done to shout us down and silence us. We have washed up politicians from our past who helped us get to where we are today with the never ending higher taxes, the never ending expenses of SunRail, the never ending destruction of our environment, the increasingly overcrowded roadways, and the ongoing lack of accountability and transparency with ECHO pulling the puppets strings and guiding this County’s future, OUR FUTURE, and some are still on County boards. I would say, collectively as a group, we are sellouts. We reap what we sow. But hey lets all enjoy our fun parks, pickleball courts, fancy stadiums, and new parking lots while our world around us turns to crap. Putting a bandaid on a gaping wound, WE ALLOWED to be created, is not going to work at this point and keeping the washed up relics of the past around certainly is not the answer. Our future generations will see us as the cowardly and selfish sellouts we are.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. We need to legislate ‘zero’ based budgeting each year by all government department heads and cut out these special taxing goals. Zone areas of each municipality for various land use, with no variances considered, ‘Zoning’ has become a joke, allowing billionaires to pay agricultural level taxes on properties selling for millions $$

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  4. Nikki Fried as head of the Dept of Agriculture what are you doing about this instead of worrying about the marijuana businesses your fiance owns?.We have deer and other wild animals in an ICI devopment off Granada eating all our shrubs and plants.What do you do to stay busy Nikki is it putting stickers on gas pumps or running for governor?

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  5. Just saw where some yo-yos were defending the “secret” negotiations surrounding the Daytona Beach City Council/Amazon deal. Only Councilman Strickland called for transparency in future negotiations. The oligarchs trot out flacks from local “Universities” to defend the secret negotiations. Nothing is going to change until we demand the local authorities knock off the backroom deals.

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