Tri-County Working Group Update

SSJ Sierra Club held our second meeting of the Tri-County Working Group in Chassowitzka with Brad Rimbey hosting the event at the community center on February 10. The group decided to meet on the third Tuesday of the month at various locations around the Citrus, Marion, and Levy County region. Next month we will meet at the Crystal River Preserve State Park meeting room on March 17.

Having identified water and springs issue with Amendment One budgeting as our initial focus, we divided ourselves into two groups. Gary Green led the group that explored ways to take our message to the public, including media–newspaper, social media and radio. Gary assigned homework tasks and the group will continue its quest to identify the best ways to reach the public and foster concern about Florida’s impaired fresh water systems.

Whitey Markle led the other half of our group in brainstorming what specific issues need to be addressed and how– with our lawmakers. The group seemed to believe that land acquisition is of paramount importance in ensuring Florida has as much area of recharging water–rainfall and run-off– to the aquifer. Wetlands are seen as key properties as well as any property that can be preserved. We discussed helping the Florida black bear at the same time by working toward purchasing wildlife corridors so that the Chassowitzka bear could migrate to the Ocala region. Currently, the Chaz bear is fairly isolated and perhaps numbers about 20 animals. Not only were key Citrus lands discussed but so were some in Marion County especially around the neglected Ocklawaha River.

The priority list from Florida’s Acquisition and Restoration Council will be presented to a board of trustees, consisting of the governor and cabinet, in May 2015 for their approval. It will guide which projects will be negotiated for purchase with funds from the state legislature. SSJ Sierra Club continues to push for the idea that land acquisition is important in conserving and protecting water quality and that money from Amendment One should be spent for important land purchases and not replace money that funds septic systems and the like.

Whitey’s committee as well as the rest of the Tri-County Working Group will continue its work when it meets in March. If you live in the area, please join us.

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