Florida's Indian River Lagoon is dying.
It has been confirmed for years to be polluted to the point of crisis. Dolphins are developing cancers, toxic blue-green algae is choking out the natural grasses which feed the manatee and fish - even the birds who eat fish from the river get sick and die from the toxins the fish absorbed as a consequence of living in the once-beautiful lagoon. Frighteningly, certain groups of locals depend on the river for a source of food as well.
The Indian River Lagoon (IRL) is one of the most biologically diverse estuaries in the United States. More than 3,500 documented species of animals, plants, fungi and protists live in its waters. In 1990, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency designated the IRL as an "estuary of national significance", which initiated both local and national efforts to better protect the biodiversity of this rich ecosystem.
Sadly, its ecological significance is no longer appreciated by the people with the power to protect it. A recent bi-partisan vote in the Florida legislature allocated 2 million dollars of the state budget to organizations such as Harbor Branch for the research, development, and implementation of means to protect and heal our river - specifically, for "sophisticated sensors that would have enabled scientists to track pollution and water conditions in real time, speeding up diagnosis and cure of environmental problems plaguing the estuary" (32963 magazine).
Governor Rick Scott, however, vetoed the 2 million, crushing any chance of curing our lagoon in the near future. A future the Indian River Lagoon might not even live to see.
Why the veto? Protecting the Indian River Lagoon lacks "statewide significance", Gov. Scott claims.
Ironic, considering that "the 156-mile-long lagoon encompasses 40 percent of Florida’s Atlantic Coast and has an annual economic impact of $3.7 billion, according to a 2009 study by the Indian River Lagoon National Estuary Program. It adds $43 billion in value to real estate on or within 0.3 miles of its shores and supports tens of thousands of jobs" (32963 magazine).
This 2 million dollars is necessary for the research required in order to permanently begin to repair the damage we have done to the lagoon. The Indian River Lagoon is a critical member of our Florida communities, and allowing it to die because of our mistakes is careless, callous, cruel, and unacceptable.
The river needs us.
Sign the petition. Call, mail, and message the Florida Governor. Pass these links around, and share the petition with your friends. Protect our natural wonders. We aren't masters of the planet, just inhabitants, and we have a responsibility to treat it with respect.
Be the voice of the lagoon.
For more information:
- Report of Gov. Rick Scott's Veto: http://www.vb32963online.com/STORIES%202013/JULY%202013/VB32963_Scott_Vetoes_Funds_For_Lagoon_Issue28_071113.html
- A species inventory of the IRL: http://www.sms.si.edu/irlspec/
- "Why are dolphins dying in the Indian River Lagoon?": http://www.wesh.com/news/central-florida/brevard-county/why-are-dolphins-dying-in-indian-river-lagoon/-/11788124/20698580/-/11c436v/-/index.html
- Wildlife Deaths Baffle Officials: http://www.cfnews13.com/content/news/cfnews13/news/article.html/content/news/articles/cfn/2013/5/7/high_profile_wildlif.html
- HB Research Initiative: http://www.fau.edu/hboi/OceanHealth/OHindianriverlagoonresearch.php