In an idyllic, totally pastoral setting east of Newnan’s Lake, shared with a noisy goose, one guinea, donkeys and cattle, a crowd of like-minded, caring people gathered for a picnic lunch and some inspirational and motivational talk by environmental leaders, Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson, Mike Byerly, and James Dick.
This was a beautiful Sunday late afternoon with a little bluegrass thrown in by Whitey Markle and a couple of friends. Thanks go to Marshall Irby for the use of his lawn and beautiful grounds.
Policy Director of OSFR, Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson spoke on the proposed phosphate mine in Union and Bradford counties, the victory in Union with the moratorium put in place by the wise commissioners. Not so in Bradford County, led by a different group of leaders who will not listen to the people who voted them into office. This group does not divulge their actions nor plans and keeps the people in the dark.
Alachua County has sincerely and graciously offered their assistance in procedure, which seems to have challenged the Bradford group up to this point.
The mine presents what is likely the most serious threat to the health and well being of the Santa Fe River that we have seen. An interesting and thoughtful insight offered by Merrillee is that the most serious threat to the water of Florida is found in the land use regulations. Some of these are so outdated that they have become useless facing new problems such as chicken CAFOs, mines, and other threats lawmakers were not thinking about when the laws were written decades ago.
Mike Byerly is an Alachua County commissioner who gave a run-down on Plum Creek, or, as is known now, Plum Creek Weyerhaeuser. Held at bay, so to speak, rather precariously by a three-two vote of the county, the make-up of the commission is key in containing the threat of development in east and northeast Alachua County.
Sierra Club member James Dick spoke at length about the proposed “corridor” for new highways to alleviate high traffic counts on I-75. Maintaining and improving existing highways is seen as the solution which is preferable to taking new land for new highways.