Tag Archives: wildlife

Protect Florida: Vote Yes on Amendment 1

On November 4th, 2014, Florida voters will head to the polls to cast their votes in order to decide the future of the state. Amendment 1, the Florida Water and Land Conservation Initiative, is an important initiative voters will decide on. If you like clean water, then we recommend voting yes.

Amendment 1 is our last chance to protect Florida’s fragile ecosystems. With climate change becoming more of a threat with each passing day, and the recent revelation that vertebrate populations have declined by more than 50% in just the last forty years, saving our planet and its plants and animals is something we can no longer wait for someone else to do. We the people must stand together, and by simply marking a ballot, we can choose to allocate more than $10 billion dollars to environmental conservation and water protection over the next 20 years, without any increase in taxes. Doing otherwise would be an irreparable act of negligence.

Since 2009, the Legislature has cut funding for land and water protection by 95%! Because our government seemingly does not find clean water all that important, citizens took matters into their own hands to get Amendment 1 on the ballot. Florida’s Water and Land Legacy was established, and within a year and a half, they received more than 700,000 certified signatures that allowed Amendment 1 to be placed on the November 4, 2014 ballot.

So what exactly will this Amendment do? According to the FAQS on the Amendment’s website, the Amendment will guarantee the following:

  • Restore, manage, and acquire lands necessary to protect Florida’s drinking water sources and protect the water quality in our rivers, lakes and streams;
  • Protect our beaches and shores;
  • Protect and restore the Everglades and other degraded natural systems and waterways;
  • Manage fish and wildlife habitat, protect forests and wetlands, and restore conservation lands that are an important part of Florida’s economy and quality of life;
  • Provide funding to manage existing state and local natural areas, parks, and trails for water supply, habitat and recreation.

The money that will allow this to happen will come from Florida’s excise tax on documents, or documentary stamp tax. This is an already established tax generated by documents necessary during the sale of real estate, and Amendment 1 will see to it that 33% of the funds raised by this tax will be used only for conservation purposes. This money will help Florida’s fragile ecosystems, and will combat both land and water pollution, helping to ensure clean and plentiful drinking water for this generation and those to come.

If this Amendment does not pass, the future of Florida and its inhabitants will be at stake. The future of clean drinking water, of our beaches, and of tourism will be uncertain. Will our children know the beauty of the Everglades, will they know of manatees and Key deer, will they be able to traverse trails and play in parks? Let’s answer these questions ourselves, with action, with our voices.

We can no longer rely on our legislators or representatives to do right by us and by the environment. We must do the checking and balancing.

It is up to us to protect our state, our ecosystem, and all of the inhabitants within it, whether they walk on two legs, four legs, or none. We must take action, and the easiest way to do that is to Vote Yes on Amendment 1 on November 4th, 2014.

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Read the Amendment in its entirety below: Continue reading Protect Florida: Vote Yes on Amendment 1

Red Rat Snake

stairs at macarthur state park

After crossing  the boardwalk over Lake Worth Lagoon at John D. MacArthur State Park in North Palm Beach, we made it to the beach side. You can either take the handicap ramp up the dune to the beach access, or the multilevel of stairs. We chose the stairs.

I climbed the first set of stairs. Everything was fine. On the next set of stairs, underneath the bottom step something caught my eye.

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Finding refuge from the heat, a snake relaxed on the support beam underneath the step!

It was a red rat snake, also known as a corn snake! The Pantherophis guttatus is a common, non-venomous constrictor. According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Committee, red rat snakes are the best climbing snakes in Florida, which explains how it got up to its aerial secret spot!

This particular red rat snake was vibrantly colored. Their colors can vary from yellow to tan to orange. They feast on small mammals, lizards, eggs, and sometimes even a bird.

Red rat snakes are known to inhabit mangrove forests, rockland hammocks, and pine rocklands. They are highly adaptable, as they have learned to deal with human expansion by thriving in urbanized environments.

Golden Silk Orb Weaver

Golden Silk Orb-Weaver Spiders  look like they could induce arachnophobia into the fearless, but worry not, these common little Nephila clavipes are basically harmless to humans.

Also known as Banana Spiders, you will definitely run into these gals if you walk along any densely treed pathway, whether it be near the beach or through the mangroves.

banana spider florida
A female Golden Silk Orb Weaver. The corpse of another Golden Silk female hangs by a thread below.

Once the heebie jeebies subside, examine the web of one of these creatures. Mature Golden Silk Spiders will weave a web that appears to be made of, you guessed it, golden silk! Their webs are extensive, semi-permanent structures, meaning they will rebuild a piece when it gets destroyed, but they won’t keep making new webs like other spiders do. So watch your heads, tall people, or you may come face to face with one of these beautiful spiders!

Gold Silk Orb Weavers will only bite a human if they are disturbed. The bite will sting, but will not be worse than a bee sting. There will be discomfort, redness, and maybe a mark, but other than that you should be fine. (An allergic reaction could occur, and if there are more severe symptoms, seek medical help immediately.)

golden orb weaver spiders banana spider
Two females, one in the foreground and one in the background, appear to float in mid-air. The tiny little guy is not a baby, but the male spider! They only grow up to 6 mm wide!