David Dunn-Rankin

David Dunn-Rankin

I don’t even want to calculate the hours of my life over the last 50 years that I’ve spent in public meetings and hearings listening to self-appointed scolds telling the rest of us that we’re not preserving enough of Florida before they return to the comfort of their air-conditioned single-family homes set in manicured and usually over-fertilized subdivision lots.

I was disappointed to see you begin your 03/07/21 editorial with yet another such jeremiad and follow up with a segue to your “Choose door number two – not door number one.” as the rationale for a screed against Republicans for being the tight-fisted Scrooges that refuse to – and sabotage any efforts to – spend money to preserve more of Florida.

In that process, you made a blithe leap over the most fundamental question you will never get an environmentalist to answer; “How much is enough?”

I would urge you to revisit this issue and consider if 30.5% of the land area of this state devoted to conservation enough? If it’s not enough then why not and how much is enough?” J.

I wrote our reader J. back and agreed he raised a fair question. How much preservation is enough? I then asked how would he determine how much is enough? Here’s his answer to his own question.

The task would be to identify the distinct ecosystems that we want to see or regard as essential to our vision on a macro scale, e.g., high density human habitat, apex species habitats, unique and valued biomes, farming, ranching and silviculture, etc.

After having sorted the identified ecosystems into a manageable mélange, the real fun begins. How much of each system is needed in order to prosper? It’s a cinch that two acres of Scrub isn’t going to be viable but do we have to have 50,000 acres? 

Likewise, wide-ranging apex species such as panthers and bears. How many acres does it take to support a viable population? How many acres are optimum for an economically viable town or city? What transportation corridors are needed to ensure economic connectivity? How much agricultural land is necessary to support economic farm to market infrastructure and processing of food and fiber?

The vision would be simply that. A vision of what we might be when built out that is economically and environmentally sustainable for all the ecosystems. J.

Thanks, J. You’ve correctly identified the challenge. Florida needs a detailed long-term comprehensive land plan. The state does not have a plan. Strangely, they do require your county and city to have a comprehensive land plan. 

Your county and city are required to created incredibly detailed comprehensive plans which answers all the questions you raise – at the county and city level. Yet the state of Florida, with 1,000 more people moving here every day, has not done the same comprehensive plan at the state level – despite requiring by law local governments to have these detailed comprehensive long-term planning documents.

My main environmental disagreement with the state government is that the public did not feel the state was taking long-term land planning and funding seriously. Seventy percent of us voted in favor of a constitutional amendment forcing the state to allocate $300 million annually to fund a solid long-term land management plan for Florida. 

Your legislators and governors are saying to us that they don’t believe the clear intent of that amendment to the state constitution is binding on them and refuse to invest the money we, the public, voted for. Your legislators claim the voters actually meant to vote to spend preservation money on state salaries and operating expenses.

The state of Florida needs a detailed, long-term comprehensive land use plan. If the state thinks it should be a legal requirement and a good idea for the counties and cities, why aren’t they requiring themselves, the state, to have a similar plan. We would then know what kind of dedicated funding source is needed to preserve whatever environmentally sensitive wetlands or habitat the plan requires. 

Thanks, J., for raising a great point. How will we decide how much is enough?

Share your thoughts: David@D-R.Media.