We Must Plant for Us and Birds Or Whatever Species Inherits the Planet Will Do a Better Job Than Us Saving It!!!

The President’s Hoot
by Richard H. Baker, Ph.d.
January 2020

Following our first 2018 “Transforming Landscapes for a Sustainable Future,” Vice Mayor of Vero Beach, Laura Moss got the message that we need more native plants to help save our world.  In a great example for our residents, she had all sod removed on the west side of City Hall, and planted rain gardens on the east side with the help of Robin Pelensky. This removes all need for pesticides and fertilizer for the water-demanding sod. Actions like this help save the planet and our lagoon. The Vero Beach City Council, Fellsmere City Manager, and Sebastian City staff have now committed to planting native plants.  To carry out our Plants for Birds project, Audubon has received a matching $2,500 grant and has applied for another $10,000 matching grant.

Lawns cover 63,000 square miles of the U.S., the size of Texas!  Most people irrigate this non-native invasive crop using three times more water than our corn crops! No one eats it!  Its primary purpose? To makes us look and feel good! At 200 gallons a day per person in Florida, 64% of our drinking water goes to irrigation- in summer 88%. 

The Staggering Wastefulness of the American Lawn/ yr.:

  • 800 Million gallons of Gas for Lawn Equipment
  • 41 Billion lbs. CO2 Emitted from Blowers & Mowers
  • 13 Billion lbs, of Toxic & Carcinogenic Air Pollutants
  • 100 Million lbs. of Pernicious Lawn Chemicals & Fertilizers
  • $45 Billion on Lawn Care

It would be more effective and healthy to pay people not to have a lawn!

Come to our 3rd “Transforming Landscapes for a Sustainable Future” conference on January 25th at the Emerson Center, 1590 27th Ave, Vero Beach—great speakers, new ideas. See our many supporting sponsors on page 1 who contributed $10,450 to ensure a low-cost event for you.  Let’s work together to inform our entire community about this conference so that we can educate everyone about working together to plant our county green with native plants. 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.  If you need a larger poster, contact our office 772-567-3520. $25 includes lunch, plus a free plant!

The world and the U.S. seem more divided every year with politics, shootings, killings, rolling back and new interpretation of existing laws, and ignoring scientific data: 

  • See startling Climate-Change data showing increased CO2, sea levels, temperatures, and melting of glaciers (Climate.NASA.gov)
  • U.N. Studies show that 1 million species of plants and animals are heading toward extinction (https://www.un.org/en/climatechange/reports.shtml).
  • National Audubon findings show 389 species (66%) North American birds at risk of extinction https://www.audubon.org/climate/survivalbydegrees). Due to Climate Change, the World’s Food Supply will be threatened. Ocean levels are rising. Just look at the dying trees at ORCA that surrounds Audubon House; the trees are dying from salt intrusion resulting from the rising waters of the Lagoon.

Our Earth is in serious Trouble and so are our Birds! 

Yet each of us can make a difference. Let’s bring more people in our community together to work on planting native plants and trees, which will reduce fertilizer use and climate change, save precious drinking water and our wildlife, and thus ourselves. Let’s continue:

Our organizational initiatives:

  • We are led by our fantastic, dynamic, dedicated Board, and two part-time employees and teachers
  • Grant-writing and fund-raising extraordinaire.

Our educational initiatives:  

  • PIAS hosts bimonthly community meetings with informative speakers at the Vero Beach Community Center and North County Library in Sebastian. 
  • 45 birding field trips to introduce people to special natural places and appreciate our wonderful Florida.
  • Monthly environmental film and family movie night.
  • We have a dynamic teaching team for our afterschool program, spring and summer Audubon Camps, and Junior Guide training (free for homeless children).
  • Annual Intensive Birding and e-Bird Courses, and new beginner birding field trips.
  • Our 2000-book library with accessible online Titles & Authors.
  • A new book, Florida Birds Exposed, by Dr. Juanita N. Baker.

Our advocacy initiatives:

  • Helped stop dumping of human sewage around beautiful Blue Cypress Lake and county farms.  The Indian River County Commission under Bob Solari, with PIAS support and that of the ORCA and the St. John’s Riverkeeper, passed a moratorium to stop the application of human sewage sludge on our pastures.
  • PIAS and two of our board members under the leadership of board member Attorney George Glenn, Jr., sued the City of Sebastian over their attempted annexation of 1,100 acres, with only 43 acres set aside for conservation.  Their proposed annexation does not protect the lands surrounding the South Prong of the St. Sebastian River, which is included in the proposed development that would include 3,500 homes.  Moreover, the Sebastian Mayor at the time would not even allow IRC Administrator and Attorney to talk more than 3 minutes to voice their concerns.
    • Stopped wastewater pipeline under the Lagoon.
    • Working to restore Florida Forever and Amendment 1 funds.
  •  The Clean Water Coalition (CWC), an education and advocacy organization, of which PIAS is a founder, has made great progress in getting over 600 partners (business, community organizations and neighborhood groups) to fight for clean water. CWC hosted quarterly educational meetings on water-quality issues and worked with Vero Beach City Staff to revise the City Marina procedures to require boaters with toilets to (a) pump out their holding tanks when checking into the Marina; and (b) pumping out on a regular schedule while in residence. 

Our conservation initiatives:

  •  “100,000 Trees4LifeIRC” Program has resulted in 700+ trees planted in less than 6 months. 
  • Cleared trails and removed exotic plants at the Pelican Island Audubon Society Martha Wininger Reflection Park & Oslo Riverfront Conservation Area. 
  • Monitoring birds:
    •  6th year of Annual Osprey Monitoring at Blue Cypress Lake – world’s largest nesting population.
    •  4th year of Spoonbill Watch, a Climate-Change monitoring initiative by citizen scientists at the Stick Marsh. 
    • The Eagle Watch & Jay Watch. 

Join us in our efforts so you can make a difference! Donate, Volunteer, and Plant a Tree!

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