|The Greening of Wakulla Springs|
Are you concerned, agitated, and fearful about what’s happening? Worried about what’s being done about it? Or have you just become numb to the thought, kind of like the Israelis have become numb to the fact that the Palestinians have rockets aimed at their homes from three directions? (Okay, so the analogy’s a stretch, but stay with me.)
I just watched 60 Minutes on CBS and learned that despite having armed rockets pointed their way and suicide bombers threatening every public gathering with mass murder, Tel Aviv residents have become “numb,” as a reporter put it. They go to the beach, to the restaurants and the bars, and carry on normal and apparently very happy lives as if there was nothing to worry about. An observer noted that it seems they have become hopeless because they believe there is little they can do about it all, so why worry.
Importantly, he noted that ignoring the danger does nothing to lessen the genuine danger that exists for them. Point being, ignoring a threat to one’s way of life will not make the threat go away.
The problem with Florida’s springs, while certainly not as immediately lethal, has a somewhat similar ring. While one can hear the wailing of those with a particular emotional appreciation for Florida’s natural environment, the silence from the majority of Floridians is deafening. Have they become numb to the reality that Florida’s springs are being taken from them and have simply given up hope that anything can be done to stop it? Like the Tel Avivians, have they simply decided to go to the mall?
It’s a valid question. Those in a position to do something about the obvious deterioration are ignoring the problem and most of us are just shrugging our shoulders. Just as Iran’s ambition to become a nuclear nation seems so unstoppable by our elected leaders, so is the continuing deterioration of Florida’s springs. State legislators continue to pander to the moneyed elite and ignore the insidious decay beneath their feet. Florida’s world reknowned environmental legacy is at risk while they haggle over how best to cut the cost of protecting some of the state’s greatest natural assets because "regulation kills jobs.”
This studied denial of the importance of natural Florida has pervaded even the self-aggrandizing publication of the Department of Environmental Protection. If you visit their “Florida State Parks” website (http://www.floridastateparks.org/wakullasprings/aboutthepark.cfm), you’ll find this warning about the historic and once incredibly beautiful Wakulla Springs:
“Glass-Bottom Boat Tours over the spring basin have become the exception rather than the rule in recent years. Tea-stained or green water impedes the penetration of light needed to view the impressive features of the 120 foot deep chasm of Wakulla Spring. Heavy rains, combined with other unknown factors, are thought to be the cause of decreased visibility.”
”To avoid disappointment, it is strongly suggested that the park be contacted prior to expected visitation to ascertain the feasibility of glass-bottom boat operation. Water quality conditions can change rapidly and unexpectedly.
It is unfathomable that the state agency responsible for “getting the water right” has become so blasé about such a disaster that they blandly warn visitors to check first because the spring has become prone to green scum and cloudy water instead of the crystal clear natural wonder it used to be. Have we all become so calloused by the indifference of our elected leaders that to read this on the primary website where all of Florida’s parks are marketed to the world we are yet not appalled and offended as we should be?
Well, I’m appalled, even if I’m only one of a few. And I’m disgusted. I’m going to start seeking out my elected representatives and asking why they aren’t as well. You should, too.