|The President’s Hoot|
by Richard H. Baker, Ph.D.
We pay at least 6 different times for our grass lawns! Here is what we are paying for in the US:
1st $$ to clearcut land to take down native trees, then replace them with expensive, non-native turfgrass.
2nd $$ wasted on precious, limited pure drinking water of which 64-88% is used to irrigate our turf in Florida. Most irrigated crop in the U.S. Three times more turfgrass is planted than corn, and we can’t even eat it!
3rd $45 billion on lawn care to apply 100 million lbs. pernicious lawn chemicals and fertilizers that make their way into the rivers, canals, and lagoon, killing our seagrasses and wildlife.
4th $$ for 800 million gallons of gas and lawn-care equipment that spreads 41 billion lbs. of CO2 & 13 billion lbs. of toxic and carcinogenic air-pollutant gases that contribute to global warming and result in human health issues by breathing in pollutants and eating contaminated animals and plants.
5th $$ paid in taxes for our cities, county, state and federal governments to spray herbicides to kill the aquatic weeds (fed by those applied lawn fertilizers) growing in our canals, ponds, and lakes.
6th Now more $$ to replant the killed seagrasses in the lagoon & remove cyanobacteria and its toxins, algae, and excess nitrogen and phosphorus produced from the herbicide-killed weeds and fertilizers. All of these kill our fishes, manatees, and birds.
Over 900 manatees have succumbed since January 2021 along with many fish because of the lack of seagrasses and the presence of algae, toxic chemicals, and sewage. Even Cylindrospermopsin, a toxin produced by cyanobacteria (blue-green algae), was detected in May in the drinking water from West Palm Beach City’s Water Treatment Plant. Lake Okeechobee has 500 sq. miles of cyanobacteria present this year which is deadly to humans and causal for ALS, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Human development has lost 70% of our plants, and 70% of our birds are gone.
Everyone! Let’s dig up our lawns and plant native trees and plants. PIAS is growing them for you!
For a list of available native plants and trees, see our website https://pelicanislandaudubon.org/home-page/trees-for-life-plants-for-birds/ or contract our office, 772-567-3520. We are giving away Live Oak trees free while selling 13 other native trees and 40 native plants for $5 for a one-gallon pot. So far, we have distributed over 8450 trees and plants at locations mapped on our website.
We are excited about planting an Education and Demonstration Native Plant Garden at the entrance to the Indian River County Commission Building A and at three Elementary Schools1. We would love to have your help getting rid of the turfgrass and planting of natives. Call our office if you can help us with your time and donations.
If we revise our city and county landscape and tree ordinances to incorporate these ideas, we can protect our seagrasses and wildlife. We must convince our politicians to pass rules to prohibit clear cutting and reduce our turfgrass to only 10-15% of the lawn. Native-plant gardens can beautify your property while fostering birds and pollinators. Most lawns are wildlife deserts!
This is a monumental time in our history if we want to survive along with our native biodiversity. We and our landscapers can change how we and they manage our lawns. Landscapers can learn to retain our native plants and trees while maintaining our native yards in a beautiful condition to save our planet and our money!
Let’s work together to stop this expensive madness that is destroying our environment, and save this planet from horrific storms, fires, floods. cyanobacteria in our drinking water, lakes, ponds, and Lagoon. Let’s take the steps necessary to stop killing our seagrasses because of our insane infatuation with lawns.
We live on a beautiful planet, indeed the only one that can support us. Nature has allowed us to expand across the earth but at the cost of polluting the whole earth, including the oceans, yet we occupy only 10% of the Earth. We are badly contaminating and altering the whole planet. Our North and South Poles are melting. Our oceans have risen 8” since 1880. With Greenland and glaciers melting rapidly, and permafrost releasing methane, we will sink Florida. Let’s reconnect to nature and have a sustainable future. We must protect our water quality and quantity immediately. We have a choice: Seagrass or Turfgrass.