Monday, June 18, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: State preserves natural treasure by buying Blue Springs

By voting to purchase Blue Springs Park in Gilchrist County, the governor and Cabinet have preserved another small slice of natural Florida. The 407-acre park has been privately owned and meticulously protected from the development, overuse and pollution that has befallen many Florida springs. Now it will be up to the state to be equally good stewards of this unique land.

Blue Springs has a colorful past, as reported by the Tampa Bay Times' Craig Pittman. Owned by Ed C. Wright, a wealthy St. Petersburg investor and businessman, the six springs and surrounding land along the Santa Fe River were just one piece of the 20,000 acres he owned across Florida in the 1950s. When Wright died in 1969, he left his entire $50 million estate to his longtime secretary — and secret sweetheart — Ruth Kirby. She treasured the tranquil getaway and decided to share it with the public rather than sell to developers. She built a diving dock and boardwalk, then charged a dime for admission, Pittman wrote. Today, the price is up to $10 but the waters are the same crystal blue.

Kirby's descendants, who ran the recreation spot in the decades since, wanted out of the public park business and put the property up for sale in 2013. The state bought it last week for $5.25 million, marking a shift in the recent practice of buying only the development rights to environmentally valuable land rather than the land itself. The purchase is an appropriate use of Florida Forever funds, which are intended for conserving natural land. It's also a positive and promising early step by Noah Valenstein, the new secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection, who said he intends to seek similar acquisitions.

Florida's treasured springs need more advocates. Saltwater intrusion, algae blooms and pollution, primarily caused by overpumping of the underground aquifer to accommodate development, have badly damaged springs throughout the state. Just last month, the Southwest Florida Water Management District voted to allow the flow of Crystal River and the 70 springs that feed Kings Bay in Citrus County to be cut by up to 11 percent, a level the agency claimed would provide for more groundwater pumping without causing "significant damage" to the environment. This was at the same meeting they imposed residential watering restrictions because of drought conditions.

The purchase of Blue Springs by the state isn't the wholesale change Florida needs in its water policy, which is too accommodating to developers at the expense of natural resources. But by converting this rare jewel into a state park, the state at least is preventing it from being lost to private development and ensuring that generations more Floridians will be able to enjoy it.

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Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

The new grass-roots effort to put a transportation package before Hillsborough County voters in November faces a tough slog. Voters rejected a similar effort in 2010, and another in 2016 by elected officials never made it from the gate. But the lates...
Published: 06/15/18
Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Forty years ago today, Nelson Poynter died. He was the last individual to own this newspaper, and to keep the Times connected to this community, he did something remarkable. He gave it away.In his last years, Mr. Poynter recognized that sooner or lat...
Published: 06/15/18

There was no FBI anti-Trump conspiracy

The Justice Department released Thursday the highly anticipated report on the FBI’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email probe and other sensitive issues in the 2016 election. It is not the report President Donald Trump wanted. But there is enough i...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Voter purge may be legal, but it’s also suppression

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Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Editorial: Free rides will serve as a test of whether the streetcar is serious transportation

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Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

AT&T and the case for digital innovation

A good way to guarantee you’ll be wrong about something is to predict the future of technology. As in, "One day, we’ll all …" Experts can hazard guesses about artificial intelligence, driverless cars or the death of cable television, but technologica...
Published: 06/14/18
Editorial: State, nonprofits share obligation to help Hillsborough’s foster kids

Editorial: State, nonprofits share obligation to help Hillsborough’s foster kids

The Florida Department of Children and Families has correctly set a quick deadline for Hillsborough County’s main child welfare provider to correct its foster care program. For too long the same story has played out, where troubled teens who need fos...
Published: 06/14/18
Editorial: Educate voters on Amendment 4 and restoring felons’ rights

Editorial: Educate voters on Amendment 4 and restoring felons’ rights

This fall voters will have 13 constitutional amendments to wade through on the ballot, but Amendment 4 should get special focus. It represents a rare opportunity to rectify a grievous provision in the Florida Constitution, which permanently revokes t...
Published: 06/13/18
Updated: 06/14/18
Editorial: How Florida and the Trump administration are tampering with your health care

Editorial: How Florida and the Trump administration are tampering with your health care

The Trump administration just can’t stop sabotaging Americans’ access to health care. Instead of giving up after it failed to persuade Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act, it continues to quietly undermine the law in ways that would reduce acc...
Published: 06/12/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Editorial: Parkland students set example for advocacy

Music is healing. Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas Senior High School put that theory on display Sunday night in New York with their stirring performance at the Tony Awards — beautifully.The students, all from the school’s drama department, bro...
Published: 06/12/18
Updated: 06/13/18