Speaking of nature, the manatee is one of the wonders of our waters. This lumbering sea cow is a pleasure to encounter in the wild -- on the shore or on a slow boat.
But there's a fight about the manatee's federal endangered species designation, one that a group of boaters, businesses and other interests want to downgrade to merely threatened.
That reduced protection would put manatees in line for hits by boats no longer bound by speeding limits in designated areas. One of the biggest threats to manatees are collisions with watercraft.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is reviewing the manatee classification. Florida's sea cow population has surged over the decades, from only several hundred in 1967 to more than 4,800 today.
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But 829 died last year in cold snaps, a toxic red tide and other reasons. The birth rate apparently keeps the manatee population stable, but the nation should be promoting growth.
These creatures are one of Florida treasures, a tourist magnet and thus an economic resource that should be nurtured. Like Sarasota Bay.
Quote of the week
We're sticking with an ecological theme here:
"We're doing everything we can to save the trees. It was part of an old nursery and there are lots of exotic old trees. We're all tree lovers. That's why we want a nature trail so people can experience old Florida."
-- developer Alan Forrester, commenting about a housing project that received preliminary Manatee County commission approval this week. The 38-acre property served as the Reason family's nursery for decades, a world-famous place with historic old-growth trees.
Seventy percent of the parcel will be open space. Kudos to the development company, Vision Planning & Design LLC of Sarasota, for a magnificent preservation of a major piece of Manatee County history.
(We must add an aside: A tree preservationist named Forrester? How perfect.)