Middle River Dispatches is a gumbo of posts about fly-fishing, conservation, politics and days afield.

A Dirty Deal in Florida

Rum Chron1.2

With the new gig I don’t have nearly the time I used have to blog about the conservation and outdoor recreation stories like I want to. The good news is Chris Hunt of Eat More Brook Trout fame has unleashed a corker.

His four part series “Florida’s Dirty Little Secret” describes in stunning detail the problems facing the coastal estuaries in south Florida and the impact it has on outdoor recreation. It is both eye opening and a call to action.

Part 1: “It’s feast or famine for the coastal estuaries of south Florida, and while the solution to restoring balance to these vital ecological and recreational wonderlands seems simple–and it frankly is, assuming the political will can be mustered–powerful interests stand in the way.”

Part 2: “This heavily subsidized industry is largely the cause of one of the most egregious environmental problems in the Southeast, and if you’re a saltwater angler from Florida, or someone who travels to the Sunshine State to chase inshore trophies like snook, tarpon and redfish, you might already know the havoc Big Sugar wreaks on the state’s southern estuaries.”

Part 3: “But unless we act, we’re just a bunch of whiners. It’s a tough pill to swallow, but it’s true. Complaining about a problem without offering a solution just makes for shrill rhetoric. It’s unproductive, to be sure. For more, see: Congress, United States.”

Part 4: “But the challenge isn’t so much proving that recreation fishing deserves a more prominent seat at the table. Instead, it’s finding a way to play the game by a set of rules we likely need more help with. While Big Sugar contributes millions every year to political action committees and candidates–and spends millions more lobbying for the status quo–the recreational fishing industry does precious little.”

The bottom line is never more clear. Access to healthy habitat creates recreational opportunity that leads to economic activity.

As Hunt so aptly states in his closing post, “Yes, the system is failing us. As anglers, it’s clear that we have the numbers. We have the data. We have the impact. But, unless we start putting the money where our mouths are, Big Sugar, Big Oil, mining, ethanol, coal–the industries that quietly spend money in D.C and in congressional districts from coast to coast to protect their fiefdoms–we’re going to lose our resources, both fresh and salty.”

The question now is one of political will. Policy discussions have failed us. We can make the case until the cows come home and the facts back us up, but if the policy makers ignore us then it is time to go political.

Have we had enough of policy makers who ignore the economic importance of outdoor recreation economy and dismiss the benefits of outdoor recreation and venues they require?

Will we start to demand more action and less lip service?

I hope so. How about you?

Cue the pitchforks and torches!

 

 

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