News From the Chair March 2016

By Maryvonne Devensky

This past week, two important BOCC meetings occurred to discuss the Plum Creek Envision Alachua Sector Plan. After County staff and Plum Creek people did their presentations, the floor was open to the public to comment. This community is full of people who are seriously concerned with the PC project (or lack of definite plan, except the change of our Comprehensive Plan Land Use so that they can sell their land to developers). The majority of the people shared their thoughts on a variety of reasons why this PC project is not good for Alachua County.

Most Sierra Club members comments can be summarized with “Protect water, protect water, protect water” while the PC comments could be “Jobs, jobs, jobs”. These two issues are major issues not for just Alachua, but for the whole world…. Maybe a quarter of the comments were in favor of PC, but some might have been on PC payroll. However many people who spoke against Plum Creek  are also very concerned about the income disparity between West and East Gainesville and want to do something about this constant poverty issue that needs to be solved.

Many people agreed that the Tacachale land swap should be pursued by the commission, and would provide jobs in East Gainesville.

Let’s hope that this open communication between the County Commission and the public ends up creating a solution that would be a win-win for all concerned.

On the Northern counties of our SSJ group, Union and Bradford, we have another issue coming up with another major project that could bring damage to our environment along the Santa Fe River and the New River: Phosphate mining over 6,000 to 10,000 acres along the New River. If you live in Union County or Bradford County and want to help, please contact Rebecca Parker at . You can read the article here and find updates from the group on their facebook page here.

You can also call the Union County Commissioners: Karen Cossey District 1 #386-496-2058; Woody Kitler District 2 #904-588-5745; James Tallman District 3 #386-623-2840; Travis Willie Croft District 5 #352-316-8027.   Ask them to oppose the Phosphate Mining Project.

You can watch this 4 minute film: that shows the real face of phosphate mining.
In Gainesville, let’s keep writing letters to the Editor, to our elected representatives and the Governor asking for the Protections of our Parks: “No hunting, No cattle grazing, No timbering”.

On Saturday February 13, we had 9 Sierra Club groups from Miami, Tampa to Fernandina Beach held rallies under the “HAVE A HEART –SAVE OUR PARKS” theme. That attracted lots of press and public awareness, yet we do not know the end of this….Contact us if you want to volunteer and educate the public at La Chua Trail, by distributing flyers over the weekend. You would be surprised by how few people are aware of the proposed changes to our Park System.

In the South end of our SSJ group, the Tri County group is very active doing presentations of the program “Water Works”. Contact Jonathan Brainard and Kathryn Taubert if you know of a possible location to have a program for the public. Thanks.

Earth Day is coming up, on Friday April 22, 2016, and we are going to have another Marjorie Carr Luncheon event, and this time it will be at the Thomas Center. Time between 11:30 am to 1:30pm. Lots of local environmental groups will be present and sharing what they are doing at this time. Save the date and plan to attend.  More later…