Rick Scott will finish off what's left of Florida's environmental movement

Manatees gather at Blue Spring State Park

More than 100 manatees are stacked like cord wood Thursday, Jan. 14, 2010 as they find warmer waters at Blue Spring State Park, where no one is allowed to get near them in the water. Wayne C. Hartley, Blue Spring Park Service Specialist takes part in counting the manatees for a two-day statewide survey. Hartley counted 217 manatees in the spring run. (RED HUBER, ORLANDO SENTINEL / January 14, 2010)

If Rick Scott could create 1,000 jobs by barbecuing manatees, sea pigs would be roasting on a spit tomorrow.

They apparently taste like elephant.

Just how much outrage would that cause?

I'm beginning to wonder.

The green glory days are coming to an end in Florida.

And now we have a governor who pretty much will finish the job to a rousing round of apathy.

The end of a most amazing era is going out with a whimper.

Florida did things no state had done before. We rejected the massive flood-control projects of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. We stopped the Cross Florida Barge Canal. We restored the Kissimmee River. Next up was the Everglades. We spent billions of dollars preserving land.

We led the nation in abused kids and cheap jobs, but by God we had the best network of state parks in the country.

The environment was becoming an alpha issue in Florida, elevated to the level of education, taxes and crime. Any politician had to raise his right hand and swear allegiance whether he meant it or not.

The movement was led by the greatest armada of environmentalists ever assembled in a single state — Marjory Stoneman Douglas, Art Marshall and Marjorie Carr, to name a few.

Grass-roots groups like Friends of the Wekiva formed to fight local battles.

It was pave versus save.

We led the nation in both destroying and preserving natural lands.

We bought 2 million acres. We had the Conservation and Recreation Lands Program, Save Our Rivers, Save Our Coast, Preservation 2000 and Florida Forever.

What couldn't be bought was fought over.

The developers were armed with money, lawyers and lobbyists. The greenies countered with an army of intelligent and passionate activists who were well-versed in the intricacies of regulatory battle and usually backed by the media and public-opinion polls.

We had rules and regulations to protect everything from wetlands to beach mice. We had local planners, regional planners and state planners. We had five water-management districts and the Department of Environmental Protection. And behind them lurked even more federal agencies. There were zoning boards and governing boards, administrative hearings and lawsuits.

The forces of green would use each and every one of these assets in lengthy battles of attrition with the forces of concrete.

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