Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

You've Seen the Real Florida after Viewing the Timucuan

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

You've Seen the Real Florida after Viewing the Timucuan

Article excerpt

Byline: Ronald L. Littlepage, Times-Union columnist

OK. Mid-August is probably not the best time to be touting the wonders of the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve.

But a tribe of politicians was doing just that yesterday morning with a gaggle of media and other assorted folks in tow.

The first stop was one of the preserve's crown jewels, the Ribault Clubhouse on Fort George Island, and the first order of business for those in attendance was a good dousing with mosquito repellent.

Even with that, the buzzing didn't completely fade away. In fact, I'm almost certain I heard one particularly large blood sucker say, "Ha. We laugh at your bug spray."

But seeing the old place was worth a swat or two.

The Ribualt Clubhouse was built in 1928. With a canopy of live oaks and an expanse of magnificent marshes, the setting is spectacular.

But as often happens with time, the clubhouse fell into disrepair. Until a couple of years ago, it was pretty much a wreck.

Thanks to a lot of hard work by many people, the clubhouse is now being restored and the old place is looking mighty good.

When completed, it will be used as a visitor's center, bookstore and space for meetings.

It was at the clubhouse that the tribe of politicians performed the ritual dance that is apparently triggered by the presence of television cameras.

David Struhs, secretary of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, which oversees the state's parks, gave the first speech, managing to work the words "environment" and "Republicans" into the same sentence, a linguistic trick that wouldn't have even been attempted in years past.

Obviously an up-and-comer, Struhs also didn't forget to mention his boss, Jeb Bush, and even George W., when the environment was being talked about.

Congressman Ander Crenshaw recalled playing on Fort George Island as a child. He remembered the horse flies more than the mosquitoes.

And Mayor John Delaney plugged his Preservation Project.

All of them stressed that the Timucuan Preserve and the publicly owned lands around it provide an example of a rarity in government -- the local, state and federal governments working together in harmony. …

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