State Wildlife Is a Treasure That Deserves Proper Funds

Article excerpt

Byline: Ronald L. Littlepage, Times-Union columnist

The other evening, just before dark, I was sitting in a deer stand that I had attached to a pine tree about 14 feet above the ground.

To my left was a hardwood forest of magnificent old trees -- oak, maple, elm. From there a red-tailed hawk emerged and I watched in fascination as it glided below me, its wings playing the air currents and its tail feathers spread out into a fan.

Once past me, the hawk suddenly dove toward the ground just as a mourning dove, which I had not seen in the fading light, exploded into flight and escaped.

It's witnessing such scenes that makes time spent in the outdoors moments to be treasured.

And with 7,700 freshwater lakes greater than 10 acres, with 1,197 miles of coastline and with 12,000 miles of rivers, streams and canals, Florida offers a treasure chest of opportunity for such things.

That's why it's important that attention be paid to a recent report by the Florida Legislature's Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability.

OK. OK. I know that anything carrying an acronym like OPPAGA tends to make eyes glaze over, but try to stay awake for this one.

One of the key players in protecting the state's natural resources is the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the OPPAGA report warns that the commission's funding is facing a crisis in the next two years.

Most of the commission's funding -- $129 million, or 71 percent -- comes from trust funds supported by license and permit fees. …

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