Saturday, November 19, 2016

Don't let greed, Davis family, destroy GTM-NERR with "Outpost" development

Posted November 13, 2016 12:03 am
By Allison Marshak
GUEST EDITORIAL: Paradise lost, just around the corner

Just around the corner from Nocatee we are blessed with the Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve, a magnificent and vital sanctuary, the only reserve of its kind on the east coast of Florida. Protected since 1985, the GTMNERR provides habitat for “at least 44 mammal, 358 bird, 41 reptile, 21 amphibian, 303 fish and 580 plant species … 48 of which are protected animals and eight are protected plants (Florida Department of Environmental Protection-FDEP).”

Also, just around the corner from Nocatee is the unique and beautiful “Outpost,” an exquisite tract of conservation land that directly abuts the GTMNERR. The Outpost’s surrounding waters have been designated “Outstanding Florida Waters,” which means they are “worthy of special protection,” according to the DEP.

Here you might see black skimmers, wood storks and roseate spoonbills, all classified as “threatened.” And, as far as the eye can see are gorgeous vistas of woods, wetlands and water, all teeming with all kinds of flora and fauna, a soothing balm for heart, mind, and soul.

Unfortunately, just around the corner from Nocatee lurks the real possibility of the destruction of the Outpost’s 70 upland acres. Gate Petroleum is suing St. Johns County to rezone the land and is in contract with Dream Finders Homes who will then build 77 huge homes for a development called Vista Tranquilla over a 10-year period. This will be a construction nightmare for so much wildlife, migratory birds, endangered species — and humans. And, this precious habitat will be lost for generations to come. Forever.

However, just around the corner from Nocatee another future is possible. Left in its natural state, this conservation land will not only benefit countless animals, birds, and plants but also continue to help clean our air, improve our water quality and prevent flooding. This critical tract of land will continue to thrive as a valuable sanctuary. We will have saved 70 acres of our diminishing wild Florida while protecting the continued health of the GTMNERR.

Please do whatever you can to stop Gate Petroleum from destroying the Outpost. Please join and donate what you can — time, money, an item for a future fundraiser — any help is valued! Time is of the essence. As the Times-Union Editorial Board wrote in their powerful piece, “Protect Florida’s Precious Environment”: “Join one or several of the many organizations that are fighting for wild Florida … now … After all, we can’t afford to lose this battle(!)”

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