Saturday, February 05, 2022

Oppose SB 1078, Senator TRAVIS HUTSON's vicious attack on our Soil and Conservation Districts (Save Guana Now)

Is Dull Republian State Senator TRAVIS HUTSON a one-man wrecking crew? Oppose his misbegotten attack on our Soil and Water Conservation District. Thanks to Nicole Crosby for standing up to HUTSON, this rough beast whose work in the legislature reminds me of what FDR said about those who would "clip the wings of the American eagle in order to feather their own nests."  

Heroic St. Johns County environmental policy leader, Nicole Crosby, is the focus of ire by devious developer TRAVIS HUTSON, a fatuous fetid malicious State Senator who is too big  for his britches. 

Governor Ron DeSantis' very first veto was of HUTSON's bill -- passed by both Florida House and senate by lopsided margins -- a bill that would have banned local governments from banning plastic straws!

 Oppose this miscreant State Senator's misbegotten attack on Soil Wand Water Conservation Districts:

Protecting the Outpost from development became a political football, leading to Senator Hutson's bill to gut Florida's Soil and Water Conservation Districts. PLEASE send one email TODAY to the Senate committee listed below. And SHARE. 

Call to action! Senator/developer Travis Hutson has not stopped retaliating since we successfully fought development of the Outpost. His bill to gut Soil and Water Conservation Districts statewide has already passed the Senate's "Environmental" Committee and is due to be voted on this TUESDAY AT NOON in the Ethics and Elections Committee. PLEASE TAKE ACTION. After you do, please SHARE this email with as many people as you can county-wide and statewide.

We're asking you to email the letter below which includes a letter from Save Guana Now co-founder Nicole Crosby. Your email will help ensure that her letter is read before Tuesday, while showing your opposition to the bill. 

Below is the letter to batch send to the representatives on the Senate Ethics and Election Committee.
PLEASE COPY AND PASTE THE ENTIRE EMAIL BELOW INTO THE BODY OF YOUR EMAIL. Then copy and paste the address list into the ‘To’ box. 

Subject line:  URGENT: SB 1078


Dear Chair Albritton, Vice Chair Rodrigues, and members of the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee,

My name is: 
My address is:

I strongly oppose SB1078 for the reasons outlined in the letter below, submitted by Nicole Crosby, Chair, St. Johns Soil and Water Conservation District, which is in Senator Hutson's district. 
Senate Bill 1078 severely limits who can serve on Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs) and would result in reduced conservation efforts statewide. Senator Hutson, a developer who is currently planning thousands of homes in St. Johns County, wants to focus SWCDs solely on agriculture. This would effectively redefine the purpose of SWCDs to no longer focus on conservation of forests, green spaces, recreational areas, natural areas, public lands or preservation of wildlife. These are "basic assets of the state" as listed in state statute 582.02.

According to Florida Politics, Senator Hutson says farmers in his area complained to him about inadequate representation on SWCDs, yet the complainers are unnamed.  My public records request to Senator Hutson’s office yielded no written communication about Soil and Water Conservation districts from any farmer to the senator. Senator Hutson'sradical rewriting of the bill governing SWCD's is based on unverified complaints and hearsay. 
The farmer/Supervisor on St. Johns SWCD (which is the senator's area) said in a recorded Zoom meeting January 31st that he couldn’t imagine Senator Hutson stating that farmers have voiced such complaints. 
Jeb Smith, president of the state’s largest farm advocacy organization, the Florida Farm Bureau Federation, wrote to me on 11/29/21, complimenting and embracing the work of SWCDs:
“ …I am grateful for your desire to collaborate with our farmers and ranchers with the authority invested in the Soil and Water Conservation District. Farm Bureau recognizes and appreciates the efforts of each county Soil and Water Conservation District to protect our valuable natural resources and encourage our state’s second most valuable industry to remain productive and profitable.”

The Farm Bureau is the voice of farmers. Senator Hutson cannot even name one farmer who has allegedly complained to him about the SWCDs.
By disqualifying everyone from serving on SWCDs except farmers and ranchers, the senator would exclude park rangers, hydrologists, soil scientists, master naturalists, arborists, ecologists, biologists, and residents who simply want to have a role in the conservation of natural resources. 
Senator Hutson has a prior history of implementing extreme measures in attempts to control who serves on a SWCD Board. In 2020, he and other developers donated $42,000 to my opponent. (No one had previously spent more than $100 campaigning for a SWCD position in the county.) $10,000 came from The Hutson Companies and $15,000 came from PACS that Senator Hutson likely procured.

Why the war chest? The only logical explanation is that I had recently led a successful fight to stop the development of 100 acres of conservation land belonging to Gate/Ponte Vedra Corporation. Commissioner (and Chairman) Henry Dean described the proposal we defeated as “incompatible development of 66 homes smack dab in the middle of our crown jewel of nature in northeast Florida.” Senator Hutson apparently opposed the protection of 100 acres of conservation land even though it is 97% surrounded by a the GTM-NERR (National Estuarine Research Reserve); the land also borders an Outstanding Florida Water and has been on the acquisitions lists of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission and the North Florida Land Trust and was on DEP's Florida Forever list. 

Anyone who opposes preservation of this parcel should not be writing environmental policy for the state of Florida. 
Not long after I defeated Senator Hutson’s candidate, the senator began drafting a bill to abolish my SWCD seat – along with all other SWCDs in the entire state, which would have made Florida the only state to have no SWCDs. Would Senator Hutson have written a bill to abolish all SWCDs if his candidate had won? Of course not. No logical person can review this scenario and conclude that Senator Huston’s bill to abolish SWCDs was anything other than retaliatory.
If Senator Hutson cares about farmers, perhaps he should be focusing on their top legislative priorities, not disseminating unverifiable claims and gutting a bill that conserves our finite natural resources.

His amended bill would exclude the majority of Floridians from running for SWCDs, drastically reducing the Districts' effectiveness and making it easier to qualify for president of the United States than for a Florida Soil and Water Conservation District seat. 


Nicole Crosby, Chair, St. Johns Soil and Water Conservation District


Send emails TO (copying and pasting the entire list):

Thank you for taking action. Together, we can save our state's Soil and Water Conservation Districts. Please forward to expand the reach of this action alert!
Nicole Crosby and Gary Coulliette
Co-founders, Save Guana Now
Save Guana Now on Facebook
Save Guana Now | P.O. Box 2111Ponte Vedra Beach, FL 32004
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