A sample speech.

Nature's bounty: JVS"A Republic-- if you can keep it."
by Joseph Siry

Benjamin Franklin when asked what the 1789, Constitutional convention had produced answered "a republic, if you can keep it.!" Florida's Ten Amendments to the State Constitution are living proof of the vitality of our republican form of government. Proposed amendments 5 and 10 provide the means for us to protect our natural heritage; if we can keep it.

We are stewards -- some would say "God's caretakers" -- of a special and beautiful place. We dwell in the most diverse and threatened natural places in the map USA; precariously coexisting with 20 million people! You have an opportunity to declare, protect and preserve from future loss, the biological wealth of the sunshine state by going to vote on November 3 and looking down the long ballot to find propositions five and ten to support.

"Florida is not ours for the taking, it may not even be ours for the giving," but it most certainly is ours to protect and preserve for those who dream as we do -- or who once dreamed as those who brought us here.

Those visions of this rare state that we share deserve to be promoted. The sight of marine turtles emerging from a dark tropical sea, heaving themselves out of the water and onto the dunes to nest -- are worth passing on. The vista of blue herons wading in shallow waters to stalk their prey or of sand-hill cranes riding the spring thermals up into the air for their migratory flight deserve to be passed down to our children. And the vision of leaping fish breaking the serene surface of a becalmed water body are an anglers dream that ought to be saved for future generations. Imagine saving a river as it winds below moss clad trees.

Florida is a high growth, low profile (relief): high tech, low wage state that needs the tools to take more than a 5 &10 cent store approach to protecting recreational lands, wildlife and fisheries!

But amendments five and ten are a start; the requisite foundation of a republic based on conserving our natural heritage fairly and efficiently. Vote yes on proposals 5 and 10 because they will consolidate, conserve and save you money in the long run with respect to the conservation of Florida's crown jewels: the fish, birds, wildlife, beaches, parks and trails.

5 - Consolidates numerous wildlife and fisheries agencies into one authority.
10 - Offers private property tax relief and tax incentives to set aside parks.


These twin amendments accomplish several beneficial things:

• Administrative coherence that makes scientific (biochemical) sense
US population
Bonding (financial) authority is extended that allows the low cost purchase of, soon to be too expensive, conservation and recreational land
• Preserves the "seed corn" for the 21st century sustained harvest of rare and endangered habitats and your children's recreational lands. (trails)
• Protects the future disposition of necessary habitat for water quality protection, fish, wildlife, marine mammal and bird sanctuaries.
• They reinforce the special qualities of Florida that bring people here; "its the economy of tourism that we are trying to enhance!"
• Levels the playing field by making taxes fairer, getting government off your back; offers protection from intrusive assessors into mobile homes.

Here in what writer, Al Burt has described as "becalmed in the mullet latitudes" we have a choice. Stretched between "way down upon the Suwanee River" and "Margaritaville" lies a diverse collection of plants, fisheries, and wildlife that until 80 years ago lived in relative obscurity and sanctuary from all but the plume bird hunters. In little more than 8 decades that Florida has disappeared under 14 million pairs of feet, 4 million acres of asphalt and miles of dredge lines and pipes. The remnants of this wild Eden remain in isolated patches like an old inner tube. Each patch represents the recognition of an special place, nesting ground, or feeding spot for us, our wildlife and fisheries. This delicate patchwork is all that lies between our buoyancy -- in this case protecting our common natural wealth -- and our drowning in a sea of sameness.

On November 3, 1998 voters made the choice to give the gift that keeps on giving. At the polls they voted to protect the natural heritage and environment by passing an amendment to the Constitution that had been placed on the ballot! Among the long list of amendments near the bottom of the ballot a large majority voted in favor of amendment 5.

By voting yes citizens voted to protect the jewels in the crown -- representing the biotic wealth of the state -- that are the natural heritage of Florida.

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