Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Editorials

Clever land deals like one for panther are a model for Florida

Thanks to a last-minute South Florida land deal, the Florida panther has a more secure path to roam beyond its quickly shrinking home. Conservation easements on 1,270 acres in Glades County provide a crucial link for the official state animal to travel north, away from development. This deal is a model for future efforts to protect Florida wildlife, encouraging private owners to preserve land while costing the state virtually nothing in a time of tightening belts.

A partnership made up of the Nature Conservancy, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and other public and private groups this month snatched up a key piece of land along the Caloosahatchee River that had been headed for foreclosure the following day. The land, which has been observed as a crossing site for male panthers, had been owned by a Miami real estate company that had expressed interest in developing it. After the $6.65 million purchase, the land is now under private ownership, with a collection of conservation easements eliminating the possibility of development. This guarantees the panthers' ability to travel through the site.

The deal comes at a time when the state has little money to devote to conservation efforts. Funding for Florida Forever, a state-sponsored land-buying program, has been slashed. Public-private conservation easements offer the best option in a cash-strapped state that still prioritizes its biodiversity and natural beauty. By buying the development rights of a piece of land rather than the land itself, agencies will spend less while also leaving the land in responsible hands.

This is not to excuse the state of Florida from devoting attention and resources to conservation. State officials — and taxpayers — should continually recognize the importance of preserving for generations to come the beauty that sets Florida apart, and attracts so many tourists. But there is no harm in letting willing benefactors shoulder the load in a state that has been hit harder than most by the recession.

Allowing the Florida panther to freely roam beyond its threatened southern habitat is welcome news to any environmentally conscious Floridian. The fact that it was a budget-neutral achievement should inspire hope in all Floridians for the maintenance of the state's beauty, even when money is tight.

Comments
Editorial: Banks still need watching after easing Dodd-Frank rules

Editorial: Banks still need watching after easing Dodd-Frank rules

Legislation that waters down the 2010 Dodd-Frank law and was sent to President Donald Trump this week is a mixed bag at best. Some provisions recognize that Congress may have gone too far in some areas in the wake of the Great Recession to place new ...
Updated: 4 hours ago

Another voice: The chutzpah of these men

A new phase of the #MeToo movement may be upon us. Call it the "not so fast" era: Powerful men who plotted career comebacks mere months after being taken down by accusations of sexual misconduct now face even more alarming claims.Mario Batali, the ce...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Editorial: Candor key step to restoring trust at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Heart Institute

Editorial: Candor key step to restoring trust at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Heart Institute

Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital has begun the important work of rebuilding trust with its patients and the community following revelations of medical errors and other problems at its Heart Institute. CEO Dr. Jonathan Ellen candidly acknowledges...
Published: 05/22/18
Updated: 05/23/18
Editorial: Tampa Bay House members fail to stand up to Big Sugar

Editorial: Tampa Bay House members fail to stand up to Big Sugar

Big Sugar remains king in Florida. Just three of the state’s 27 House members voted for an amendment to the farm bill late Thursday that would have started unwinding the needless government supports for sugar that gouge taxpayers. Predictably, the am...
Published: 05/18/18
Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s lawsuit against the nation’s largest drug makers and distributors marks a moment of awakening in the state’s battle to recover from the opioid crisis. In blunt, forceful language, Bondi accuses these companies of ...
Published: 05/18/18
Editorial: A sweet note for the Florida Orchestra’s violin program for at-risk kids

Editorial: A sweet note for the Florida Orchestra’s violin program for at-risk kids

This is music to the ears. Members of the Florida Orchestra will introduce at-risk students to the violin this summer at some Hillsborough recreation centers. For free.An $80,000 grant to the University Area Community Development Corp. will pay for s...
Published: 05/17/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Trump backs off China tariff threat as China pumps money into a Trump family project

Trump backs off China tariff threat as China pumps money into a Trump family project

In barely six weeks, President Donald Trump has gone from threatening to impose $150 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods to extending a lifeline to ZTE, a Chinese cell phone company that violated U.S. sanctions by doing business with Iran and North K...
Published: 05/17/18
Editorial: Activism as seniors helps put Hillsborough graduates on the right path

Editorial: Activism as seniors helps put Hillsborough graduates on the right path

Lots of teenagers are walking together this week in Hillsborough County, a practice they’ve grown accustomed to during this remarkable school year.We can only hope they keep walking for the rest of their lives.Tens of thousands of them this week are ...
Published: 05/17/18
Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s lawsuit against the nation’s largest drug makers and distributors marks a moment of awakening in the state’s battle to recover from the opioid crisis. In blunt, forceful language, Bondi accuses these companies of ...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Editorial: Johns Hopkins All Children’s should be more open about mistakes

Editorial: Johns Hopkins All Children’s should be more open about mistakes

A state investigation raises even more concern about medical errors at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital and the venerable St. Petersburg institution’s lack of candor to the community. Regulators have determined the hospital broke Florida law by ...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/17/18