Why did you move to Indian River County?

The President’s Hoot
by Richard H. Baker, Ph.D.
January 2018

Because Florida is beautiful with ideal climate. People are drawn also to the lovely lakes and wetlands, the good fishing, golf and year-round outdoor sports, the small town communities, the arts and cultural opportunities, the lovely preserved lands in our county with native hammocks, wetlands, and unique wildlife. Sadly, we humans have polluted our lagoon and made it hazardous for ourselves. Yet we can fix it. 

You and I can do something about this pollution that comes from agricultural chemicals, septic-tank waste, and the planting of exotic vegetation and lawns, all of which results in fertilizer and pesticide runoff?  Come find out how to help by attending our exciting community conference: Transforming Landscapes for a Sustainable Future- Learn how to Enhance Your Yard with Native Plants, on January 19 and 20, 2018, at The Emerson Center, 1590 27th Ave, Vero Beach, FL 32960. We can clean our lagoon if we work together. Please help us inform our entire community about this conference and encourage them to attend. Please take or email this flyer to your HOA, landscaper, a public place, a school, your church, doctor’s, dentist, attorney’s office, or give to a friend. We have many supporting, diverse sponsors who have contributed $14,800 to ensure a low-cost event for you.  If you need a larger poster, contact our office 772-567-3520.

This Lagoon is here for you and me to appreciate. Yet the Lagoon is dying. And like the canary in the mine, we must heed our wildlife indicators. As we do something about this lagoon pollution, we can also do something about climate change! Did you know that one large tree could absorb about 48 pounds of CO2 per year? Planting our yards with more native plants can produce oxygen and reduce carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. 

The more we can get people to support and attend, the better chance we can all work together to transform our community to save our Lagoon and reduce the effects of climate change. Saving the Lagoon is essential for the health of our economy as well as our natural lands like ORCA and its impoundment waters.

We realize the enormous undertaking required to change course. However, the health of the Indian River Lagoon makes it clear that time is not on our side. We must ALL act now or potentially lose what has made our region so attractive to people and businesses.

The goal of the conference is to provide knowledgeable insight into the pressing need to reverse course on the way that communities, developments and homes in counties along the Indian River Lagoon develop their outdoor landscapes. While Lake Okeechobee discharges and septic-system pollutants have been the main focus for improving the water in our region, transforming landscapes can play as much of a vital role in protecting water quality, preserving water quantity, protecting our health and providing habitats for plants and animals.

Professor Doug Tallamy from University of Delaware, our keynote speaker on January 19 and author of Bringing Nature home- How You Can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants, writes: “Most of our native plant-eaters are not able to eat alien plants, and we are replacing native plants with alien species at an alarming rate, especially in the suburban gardens on which our wildlife increasingly depends.”  Tallamy thinks we can still stop this “6th Extinction” and save most of the plants and animals, by restoring native plants to our human-dominated landscapes. Our conference (see schedule list of great speakers) is an opportunity for everyone to learn how to landscape in a way that is sustainable, cost-effective and helps enhance our quality of life and our community’s health. Many species could live sustainably with us if we redesign our landscapes to accommodate them by providing food, shelter, and nesting sites using native plant species.

Other speakers will also include Steve Turnipseed, author of “Transformation of a Turf Grass Lawn into a Native Plant Landscape,” and Dr. Zak Gezon, Conservation Program Manager for Disney. Other speakers will touch on various topics pertinent to transforming landscapes for a sustainable future in our region, including Jacob E. Ensor, a lawyer who is knowledgeable about HOA laws. Our target audience is broad; it includes all homeowners, local governments, homeowner’s associations, developers, landscape architects, consulting engineers, new homeowners, future homebuyers, and concerned residents.

The rate of development in the Indian River Lagoon region has reached pre-recession levels, and now is the time to discuss transforming landscapes so that our residentially and commercially developed lands are part of the solution to a healthy environment, not a detriment.

Please attend and bring others with you!  This conference will benefit our community. Let’s all come together to work on solutions for transforming landscapes for a sustainable future.

Best Wishes in the New Year!

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