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A young man looks at Florida.

When I look at a satellite map of Florida (which I do quite often), it dismays me to watch the Earth changing colors. Across the state is a blanket of forest green, dark and mysterious. But nowadays it's being pimpled by a dull metallic shine, that's manmade and growing fast, far too fast. When I see green Earth, I think of the days I've spent on the St. Johns River, searching the marshes for bass and bream. Or wandering down Canaveral sands when the mullet are running, a surf rod in my hand, as the Atlantic thunders on uninhabited sands.


But when I see shining Earth, I think of the suburbs. I I think of all of that green that was cut down before it.

While sportsmen fight for the adjustment of seasons and size limits, we consistently forget the greatest threat: Without the habitat to harbor the nature connecting us all, why would we even bother with the regulations?

When talking with someone older, I try to voice my opinion, but I'm stopped short with the same universal reply: "Son, that's economic development. The new jobs greatly increase the revenue of Florida. You'll never change it."

Apparently, everyone ignores the inevitable, that if our economy depends only on rapid development of land, we're going to run out of land. And then what?

Stopping urban development would force us to reflect upon the forgotten possibilities for our economy. Once we stop developing outwards, we can begin developing inwards, renovating poorly constructed neighborhoods, and making ugly, inefficient buildings into beautiful ones for everyone. If we assess all the options, we can preserve nature and improve our cities all in one motion.

More than ever, Florida needs politicians who are ready to protect the thing that belongs to everyone.

My thoughts wander to a trip I took a few years back, tarpon fishing deep inside the Everglades backcountry. We'd come north from Islamorada to fish the Shark River, and the day unfolded with a strange beauty: The predawn sheen on Whitewater Bay and the clouds developing over the Gulf of Mexico, hard and fresh in the morning. The tarpon, as it leaped like a wolf off the stern, and then the guide leadering it and letting me hold the silver king as its length rested alongside our skiff. We fished for snook in the mangrove bays, and watched as thunderstorms boiled in the hot summer sky. Come the first rumblings of thunder, we raced back through the wilderness of mangroves and grassflats, the showers drifting across Florida Bay.

Oftentimes I dream about the fate of places as grand and delicate as this, wondering whether we can preserve them for new generations to see. And when I wake up, I think of all those people who doubt me when I say we can.

But I know better. Of course we can.

Jared Pace Olson, 16

Winter Park, FL

FS Reader since 2007
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Title Annotation:I'm a Florida Sportsman
Author:Olson, Jared Pace
Publication:Florida Sportsman
Date:Jun 1, 2014
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