The second kick-off meeting of the Santa Fe Bill of Rights or SAFEBOR was held at Millhopper Library in Gainesville August 29 with a large crowd attending. Many questions were answered by Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson, David Moritz and John Moran, who, along with Mike Roth and Lu Merritt, founded this movement in Gainesville. Packets of petitions were distributed along with brochures and the amendment to be submitted for adoption into the Alachua County Charter.
Now it is time to get to work. Alachua County is exceptionally forward-thinking and has intelligent leaders. The citizens of the county also have proven themselves their equal by electing them.
Even though this concept is new and may seem extreme to some, the movement is catching on and not just in the U.S. but the world. What better place than Alachua to showcase this new solution which has the potential to by-pass our failed legislators who want to keep Florida in the environmental Middle Ages?
Following is a description of this movement here in this region along the Santa Fe River.
The Santa Fe River Bill of Rights (SAFEBOR) campaign aims to enact new legal safeguards for the Santa Fe River where it borders Alachua County. Campaign organizers and volunteers are poised to gather more than 18,000 petition signatures from registered Alachua County voters in the next six months in order to secure a spot on the November 2020 ballot to amend the Alachua County charter to give the river its own rights. If the ballot initiative is approved by Alachua County voters in the 2020 general election, the county’s home rule charter will be amended to recognize the right of the Santa Fe River to naturally exist and flourish as an ecosystem, and the river’s right to be free of activities or practices that infringe upon those rights.
The effort to grant legal rights to natural systems is part of a visionary new movement being adopted within the United States and internationally because people recognize that we need to fundamentally change the ways we are living with Mother Nature,” says SAFEBOR steering committee member David Moritz, who is also chair of the Alachua County Environmental Protection Advisory Committee. With voter approval, Alachua County will be legally positioned to elevate the rights of communities and nature above the claimed “rights” of corporations to harm public waters within the Santa Fe rivershed. Existing regulatory laws have failed to protect Florida waters, organizers say, and falling aquifers and slime-filled rivers and springs with diminished flows increasingly are the focus of news stories and citizen concern. Since the Santa Fe River springs are the top layer of groundwater that provides our drinking water, another serious concern is the health of that drinking water.
Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
-A river is like a life: once taken, it cannot be brought back-