Access to land and water: Outdoor legacy at risk?
Florida's population is predicted to double in the
next 50 years to 36 million. That's enough people to fill New York,
Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston and Phoenix - the nation's five most
populous cities. As the people move in about 7 million acres of
land may be converted from natural or rural to urban development.
Just think of all these people trying to watch wildlife, fish and
hunt while crowded into fewer and smaller wild places.
We need to be concerned because the future has
already arrived in some parts of Florida. Wait times at boat ramps
are long and access to waterways is diminishing as public access
points are purchased and limited to private use. These
changes hit commercial fishermen right in the pocket book. Hunters
are feeling the squeeze too. The prices for hunting leases have
increased dramatically as less and less private lands are
available. If the trend continues these costs could skyrocket
putting leases out of reach. And Florida's preeminence as a world class birdwatching
destination could be at risk if there is less and less habitat
to sustain the species that bring birders and their bucks to our
communities. As more and more people compete for access user
conflicts are bound to increase and fish and wildlife are sure to
experience the pressure.
So what can we do about it? We can get
involved so we don't repeat the mistakes of the past. We can change
how we grow so we do so with fish and wildlife habitat in mind. Do
you know what is happening to protect shoreline access and working
waterfronts in your community? Is your community purchasing
property to conserve fish and wildlife habitats for you to enjoy?
Or to buffer existing public lands from incompatible development?
If you don't know the answers, find out and get involved. These
types of land use decisions are determining our outdoor legacy. It
will take all of us hunters and hikers, birders and bicyclists,
working together to ensure a better future for our children and
For more information: