Last week the Florida House of Representatives passed an amended bill that, with Senate approval, would put the Port of Miami Deep Dredge project on the fast track to resumption after a state court put the project on hold for further review. “Environmentalists are furious,” wrote the New Times. “They argue that the amended bill is an attempt to steamroll over their objections and circumvent court hearings set for this summer.”
Well, Emerge Miami did plan a perfect picnic, but a cold bitch named Rain went ahead and ruined it. The plan was for a couple hundred cyclists to ride from the Vizcaya Metro Station to the Glaser Organic Farmer’s Market in the Grove, pick up some grub, and then head over for said picnic at Barnacle Historic State Park, one of 53 state parks the Florida Department of Environmental Protection has proposed closing to cut its budget. The park gets its name from the 120-year-old former home of ingenious seaman Ralph Middleton Munroe, aka the Commodore. The porch-wrapped bungalow appears at the end of a long tree-lined path and commands a view of the Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserve (which the FDEP also proposed closing). Emerge had planned to launch a letter-writing campaign against the proposed closures at the picnic, but evidently Rain is a DINO. We went over to the Barnacle around noon, during a lull in the drizzle, and took some photos of the small, beautiful park, which will hopefully remain open long enough to host many other picnics to come.
Following up on our Feb. 4 post about the 53 state parks and six aquatic preserves the Department of Environmental Protection proposed closing to slash its budget by 15 percent — everything I’ve read and heard from local activists suggests the FDEP proposal was not included in the 166-page budget Rick Scott presented yesterday. This does not mean the parks and preserves, including the Barnacle in Coconut Grove and the Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserve, are safe. NB: This excerpt from naplesnews.com:
Scott’s budget does not make any specific recommendations about state parks to close, but his proposal to cut the DEP’s budget by 180 jobs and $148 million is severe enough to put at least some parks on the chopping block, said Audubon of Florida executive director Eric Draper.
“You get rid of the government that protects these places,” Draper said, “you turn them over to the pirates.”
Scott’s budget proposal includes cuts all around, including a $4.8 billion (that’s billion with a B, as in pinky-to-corner-of-mouth) slash to the state’s education budget. Having worked at a public elementary school in North Miami for three years, I shudder to think of our already deeply flawed school system trying to make do with less money. From the Miami Herald:
On Monday Florida’s new governor, Rick Scott, will release his 2011 – 2012 state budget proposal. Until then, environmentalists across Florida are holding their collective breath to see if Scott has incorporated a proposal to close 53 state parks and six aquatic preserves. The proposal to close the parks and preserves comes from the Department of Environmental Protection itself in an effort to cut its operating budget by 15 percent, something Scott wants all state agencies to do.
The 53 state parks include the Barnacle, a 120-year-old house that sits on five wooded acres in Coconut Grove. Built in 1891 out of the lumber of wrecked ships by yacht-designer Ralph Munroe, the Barnacle House looks out on the Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserve, one of the six preserves the DEP proposed closing.
This morning, I talked to Laura Reynolds, executive director of the Tropical Audubon Society, about exploding sea grass, tar balls, and the potentially “devastating effect” of deregulating Biscayne Bay.
How will closing the Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserve impact Miami?
LR: I don’t think this county has ever really understood what Biscayne Bay means to our economy. Everyone trashes it, takes advantage of it, but doesn’t spend the time [to protect it]. Some people are starting to realize that it is on the brink of crashing just like Florida Bay did a decade ago because of tons of algal blooms and too much nutrients. In fact, sea grass exploded and died, and that caused anoxic conditions in some areas.
If you ask any one who has lived here for a long time, you can’t catch fish anymore [in Biscayne Bay]. It’s not really as productive as it used to be. As far as shrimpers, the fishing industry, the boating industry — that’s an economy that we need to worry about.