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Indian River Lagoon Problems: Dark Cloud with a Silver Lining?

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bumbleI was standing in my garden this morning, watching the visiting monarch butterflies, and listening to the hummingbirds buzzing and zipping through the air as they chased each other in search of their favorite nectar plants. I gazed across the front of my property as bees travelled from flower to flower of the native lyre-leaf sage and spiderwort plants pushing up through my un-fertilized, un-poisoned, drought-friendly landscape. The trees on my property were filled with the songs, chirps, and twitters of various local and migrating birds. And I dared to allow myself just a tiny feeling of hope as I envisioned the silver lining that might come out of the current situation of our Indian River Lagoon. Someday, in the not too distant future, there might be a lot more eco-friendly landscapes. Hummingbirds might become a common occurrence instead of a rarity in Brevard County. We might see a rise in populations of Monarch butterflies and honeybees, both of which are important but threatened pollinators. And in direct correlation, we might see the return of a healthier Indian River Lagoon.

I learned about the importance of keeping an eco-friendly landscape back in 2003 when I became involved with the National Wildlife Federation’s Certified Wildlife Habitat program. My husband, a local builder and fisherman, already knew the importance of taking personal responsibility for “his share” of the environment. My catalyst to be eco-friendly was the birds and butterflies. As a fisherman, his was the health of the local water bodies …and that included any body of water in which he could “toss a line”. I didn’t realize the connection between the two until he taught me. And once I learned, we both became almost obsessed with our eco-friendly landscape.

It’s hard for me to describe what I have been feeling for the last few weeks as I see the photos of dead fish floating in our waterways and read the stories of residents finally coming together to try to find solutions.

I’m saddened and I’m outraged, of course, by the current conditions of the Indian River Lagoon, but there is another part of me that is almost holding my breath to see how much good might come from all of this outrage.

Is everybody in Brevard County going to start making personal changes? Maybe not. But some will. Some will decide to give up using chemicals and fertilizers in their yard and some will plant more native plants and some will volunteer to make oyster mats or have their septic tanks checked out. And some people might even get so excited when they make these changes that they, too, will get obsessed with their eco-friendly landscapes and will want to share their obsession with others.

And all of those changes combined together will mean more hummingbirds and butterflies and birds and healthier bodies of water for every fisherman out there who carries a rod in his car in case he passes a nice place to “toss a line.” These positive changes will make a difference to the environmental health of not just our Indian River Lagoon but all of Brevard County. It is up to all of us in Brevard County. And I’m excited to see the positive changes that we all can make.

For more information about changes you can make for a healthier Brevard, visit the Environment pages on the Brevard County website: http://www.brevardcounty.us/Environment/Sustain or

the Project Backyard Brevard website: http://www.backyardbrevard.com/

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