Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Why Fight 'Em?

Notwithstanding my last post below which mentioned the challenges of even attempting to oppose Big Oil, folks are passionate about the Laguna Madre. It is a world class birding center and is right on the Midwest Flyway. In fact, the Island boasts a new facility of over a million dollars just to expand birding. Several hundred kinds of birds can be found in addition to Peregrine falcons, ospreys, and strange birds of Arctic or South Amercia origination.

The fishing between Mexico and Mansfield is nothing short of fantastic. Tarpon and rare snook can be found among large schools of redfish and speckled trout. Many state records for saltwater fly fishing are held by fishermen down here. Some studies estimated that on one tournament weekend called TIFT, over 500 boaters represent an economic value of several million dollars in direct and indirect revenue. Over two dozen guides operate a large charter fishing industry year-round, growing to over 60 in the summer.

We love our bay dolphins too and there are about a dozen boats that are used as excursion vessels for that specific purpose. Most all the bay dolphins have names and when a new baby is born it is cause for celebration.

The population of sea turtles is quite high, with over 100 residing as juvenile green turtles in the lower bay alone. We know there are at least that many because we rescued 136 in last winter’s cold snap. Other endangered species such as Kemp’s Ridley also nest here, although mainly on the beach side. The internationally known Sea Turtle Rescue center is located on our Island and it even has a satellite station down in Mexico; several thousand school children and adults visit the center every year.

Several universities operate marine research stations down here, and many academic papers have been published regarding work done addressing the complex ecosystem of the Lower Laguna Madre and its surrounding features. Some scholars find that gooey, brown-green sediment slime to be quite fascinating. While some of the research might sound arcane, they also investigate things such as Red Tide - they even formed a group called the "Red Tide Rangers" to help collect water samples when red or brown tide is in the area.

It is not just that the area boasts a strong eco-tourism economy that is the livelihood for many of us locals, but a way of life. We fish; we go birding; we even count butterflies. "Winter Texans" come here from all over the US and Canada. No, it is not maybe 500 people on a sand spit in lower Texas, it is much more and we will fiercely fight for our local environment. Anything that threatens the vision, industry, or way of life is simply not acceptable.


mleahy said...

Hey Sam, hope all is well. Look, I don't want drilling in the Laguna Madre any more than the Island's residents. As far as fighting tooth & nail against anyone or anything threatening the Island, I submit that it has rarely worked in the past. Saving Isla Blanca Park is one rare example (HOORAY!). While tourism (Industry) is still the mainstay, even it is changing. Spring Break is one aspect of tourism which has been decreasing in recent years, this can be good or bad, depending on whom you ask (ask Liz Money).

Vision? Depends on whom you ask as well. Consensus is something that usually binds small communities and gives them purpose and unity, not so here...Why not?!? Two years ago the residents were not going to stand for "Greedy Developers" taking over their community. What happened? There are at least a dozen high rises under construction or in the development stages. My point is that if the community can't stop developers with tens of millions of dollars to invest, what makes you think that you can stop one developer with hundreds of millions to invest?

The last point is the saddest, your way of life is the last to go. You will all lose it soo slowly that you won't even notice it. It is already happening...What you had two years ago has already been modified. No more fights against high rises.....Why fight what you can't win.....This is not like Isla Blanca Park, Tony Sanchez is not an elected official, so you can not vote him out.

I sincerely hope that you all have greater success stopping Tony Sanchez than the much smaller and less profitable developers.

Best of luck, MLeahy

mleahy said...

You know, I just had a great idea. Seriously... After watching such a funny video featuring Mrs. Bill Clinton & Osama on Youtube.com. I think that someone on the Island with skills, probably Sam, should make a short video with a catchy title and post it on Youtube.com. I only say this because I looked at the counter on the "savethe lagunamadre" web site and 157 hits including mine won't get much coverage. BTW, great job on the site, I enjoyed it. I know, there will not be 300,000 views like Osama Clinton, but probably more than 157. What have you got to loose? Let me know if you do it.

Regards, MLeahy

Sam said...

Mike, you nasty evil Red Baron! I am laughing so hard I almost fell off off my perch. You want ME to get on YouTube and do the Clinton thang? Man, you can go to jail for that kind of s**t, get real buddy. I ain't wearing no Pink Tutu, neither. (*LOL*)

Hey but I appreciate the comments lately because most folks are too lazy-ass to take the brain test and type in them encyription letters to make the thang work. It's real bad after a few brews or Mike-A-Ritas, right?

My philosphy (woooo!) is to work with the industry and regulators to find a middle ground so as (1) the local folks are informed, (2) the plan is executed according to a good plan that was shared, and (3) there ain't too many surprises. How does that sound? Gee, that wasn't too darn bad - almost sounds like Willy Clinton and an intern. Dooh! Did it again! Ayiiieee

beerman said...

Hey Sammy! Bill O’Reilly exposed the skanky side of Spring Break on SPI last night. Not the best advertising for the island.

I have been setting on the sidelines over this petro exploration matter. On the surface it seems like as much of a done deal as the state prison they built down the road from us, and they HAD public hearings over it. Also having family in the oil and gas business, drilling is a Texas icon. The sound of a pump jack over the hill while hunting and fishing is just as natural to me as the buzz of the Locust. (Ok Cicada to everyone else)

My uncle pioneered direction drilling under the bay up in Corpus 30 years ago. I can’t help but believe that if they had a dry place to stand they would verses trying to float a rig in 30 feet of water or sink one onto the soft bed below. But I really don’t know anything about shallow water drilling. My point is with the push to ease dependency on foreign energy it’s hard to be a NIMBY.

On the flipside to the published depiction of drilling in Wyoming, what if Cameron County had a massive construction job that would hire hundreds, maybe thousands, of lower skilled laborers than rough-necks (what my dad did to save money for Optometry school). This project would also require drilling hundreds of holes in the Laguna Madre and permanently disrupt bay recreation. Will there be a grass-roots effort to stop the state from building a second causeway to SPI? Calls to all the nature conservation groups?

I feel that a watch-dog group needs to stay on top of any future drilling activities to insure that the environment is protected to the letter of the law, but also think we need to pick our fights wisely.

The legislature is debating casino gambling as we speak and to build a casino in one of the poorest counties in the USA is indeed ridicules (to borrow from O’Reilly) As I’m not one of the many Texans to run up to Oklahoma every weekend I may not “get” the gambling thing, but I just can’t see anyone driving an extra 4 hours to sit inside a building on SPI. We have vacationed at Galveston, Corpus, and Port Mansfield. We drive the extra miles to SPI for the Beach! But that’s naive, if the legislator puts it to a vote, and the minority of the citizens that vote approve it, then we will need a very strong local group of voters to stop it at the county level or there will be casinos on SPI my the time we retire on tract 17.

Nuff Said !

Tha Beerman