Given that our DEP and water management districts ignore the laws and protections of our statutes governing our springs and rivers and spend their time protecting polluters and giving out permits for further pumping of impaired waterways, these constitutional amendments may be the only solution. Even so, should they pass into our Constitution, we expect our lobbyist-purchased legislators to come up with devious ways to circumvent them.
OSFR has endorsed the first three of these as extremely important to protect our waters. We urge everyone to go to FL5/org and send in the petition. At the moment this seems to be the best way we can help our dying springs and rivers.
Read the original article here in the Florida Phoenix.
Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
– A river is like a life: once taken,
it cannot be brought back © Jim Tatum
The network, through a political action committee called FL5.org, is petitioning to have five proposed constitutional amendments placed on the 2022 general ballot.
Four of the initiatives demand stricter protections for Florida’s waters, wetlands, wildlands in the path of new or expanded toll roads, and iconic species such as the endangered Florida Panthers, Florida manatees, right whales, sea turtles, black bears, and bottlenose dolphins.
A fifth initiative would ban “captive wildlife hunting facilities,” also known as game farms, that peddle hunting of animals such as deer, hogs, rams, antelope, and water buffalo enclosed within their boundaries. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission reports there are 443 licensed game farms in Florida.
The campaigns are led by Charles “Chuck” O’Neal, father of Florida’s Rights Of Nature movement, which aims to establish legal rights for natural features such as rivers, springs, and wildlife.
O’Neal and his allies made waves last year, when Orange County voters, as reported by the Orlando Sentinel, overwhelmingly approved their “Right to Clean Water Initiative” — an amendment to the county charter granting citizens the right to file lawsuits on behalf of polluted local waterways. The backers said it made Orange County the largest municipality in the nation to adopt a rights-of-nature law and the first one to do so in Florida.
Orange County voters also deposed an incumbent county commissioner, Betsey VenderLey, and replaced her with environmental lawyer Nicole Wilson, who helped write the language of the Clean Water Initiative….
“I got frustrated with the way special interests manipulate environmental regulations in Florida,” O’Neal told Phoenix columnist Craig Pittman last summer. “We’re basically handcuffed here at the local level when it comes to protecting our water supply.”
O’Neal countered with the five citizen initiatives, for which his allies must secure nearly 1 million voter signatures to make ballot in 2022. They are not soliciting campaign contributions to bankroll marketing campaigns but are counting on Floridians to vote in support of the natural wonders they love about Florida.
“Ours is all-volunteer,” O’Neal said, adding that 35 environmental allies so far are endorsing FL5’s efforts. Those include the Florida Springs Council, Save Our Rivers, Waterkeepers Florida, Campus Climate Corps, and Physicians for Social Responsibility.
FL5.org’s proposed amendments to Florida’s Constitution are: