Saturday, February 24, 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: Improve school security plans with gun controls

Editorial: Improve school security plans with gun controls

Gov. Rick Scott and key members of the Florida Legislature offered ambitious proposals Friday that would plug some holes in the state’s safety net, strengthen school security and spend up to a half-billion dollars in response to last week’s massacre ...
Published: 02/23/18
Editorial: Six proposals for reasonable gun control

Editorial: Six proposals for reasonable gun control

Enough is enough. The mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School has renewed conversations about gun control in Washington and Tallahassee. Young people are demanding action, and there are cracks in the National Rifle Association’s solid w...
Published: 02/23/18
Editorial: The time to act on guns is now

Editorial: The time to act on guns is now

The nation’s conversation on guns took an encouraging step this week in three essential places — South Florida, Tallahassee and Washington — as survivors, victims’ families and elected leaders searched painfully and sincerely for common ground after ...
Published: 02/22/18

Editorial: FDLE probe of state fair fiasco falls short

It should go without saying that Florida law frowns upon public officials who take freebies from vendors and whose agency throws business to their family. But that wasn’t enough to move the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to find that the ex-di...
Published: 02/21/18
Updated: 02/23/18
Editorial: They value guns, not kids

Editorial: They value guns, not kids

They value guns over kidsSix days after 17 were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High by a teen-ager firing an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, the Florida House refused to even debate a bill banning the sale of assault weapons. The vote, 71 to 36, wasn...
Published: 02/21/18

Editorial: Nursing home rule should be stronger

It shouldn’t take months or another tragedy for Florida — which is hot and full of seniors — to protect its elderly population from heat stroke in the event of an emergency. That’s why Gov. Rick Scott had the right idea last year in calling for nursi...
Published: 02/20/18
Updated: 02/23/18
Editorial: Listen to Marjory Stoneman Douglas students demanding change

Editorial: Listen to Marjory Stoneman Douglas students demanding change

Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are traveling to the state capital today and declaring "never again.’’ A prominent Florida Republican fundraiser vows he won’t raise another nickel until his party approves new gun controls. Across F...
Published: 02/19/18

Editorial: No more doubt about Russian meddling in election

The latest indictment by the Justice Department special counsel, Robert Mueller, refutes President Donald Trump’s claims that Russian interference in the 2016 election was a Democratic hoax. The indictment details the lengths Russian conspirators too...
Published: 02/19/18

Another voice: Tips should belong to workers, not their bosses

The Trump administration is under fire for proposing a Labor Department regulation that could result in hotel and restaurant employers dipping into the tips customers leave for their employees, depriving the nation’s 14 million hard-working restauran...
Published: 02/18/18
Updated: 02/20/18
Editorial: Trump’s rising deficits and misplaced priorities

Editorial: Trump’s rising deficits and misplaced priorities

It’s not popular in Washington or virtually anywhere else these days to express concern about the rising federal deficit. Congressional Republicans who used to be deficit hawks first voted to cut taxes by $1.5 trillion over the next decade, then rais...
Published: 02/17/18