My name is Ted Lund. I am an internationally-published writer, photographer and editor specializing in recreational angling, marine conservation and environmental issues. I was born and raised in Cocoa Beach, reside in District 2 and my career path has been directly influenced by the natural resources found along the Space Coast.
I am writing on behalf of the Banana River Lagoon and North Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge (NMINWR) — which have no voice.
I ask that you support Comm. Barfield’s resolution opposing the Canaveral Port Authority’s plans to erect a commercial cargo railway through Merritt Island.
The Banana River Lagoon — as part of the larger Indian River Lagoon complex — was designated an Estuary of National Significance under the National Estuary Program in 1987. A part of the NMINWR, this portion of the lagoon has been off-limits to mechanically-propelled vessels since 1991. This federally-managed refuge is home to the world’s largest concentration of endangered West Indian manatees as well as the largest breeding rookery of brown pelicans on the planet. In addition, it houses the last near-virgin stands of turtle and manatee grass left in the 156-mile-long IRL. More than 100,000 acres of seagrass have been lost lagoon-wide over the past decade; this area serves as a recharge zone for the rest of the lagoon thanks to conservation plans implemented in the 1950s with the arrival of NASA.
The lagoon and surrounding environmentally sensitive wetlands are home to dozens of vulnerable, threatened and endangered species including gopher tortoise, indigo snakes, four different species of sea turtles, Florida scrub jays, wood storks, snail kites and the iconic symbol of our great nation, the bald eagle.
In concert with the Indian River Lagoon, the Banana River Lagoon and NMINWR contribute nearly $750m in economic impact to our area via crucial jobs in the commercial and recreational fishing industries as well as through other tourism-related activities including paddleboarding, kayaking, windsurfing, birdwatching, ecotours and more.
Your commission — in concert with regional, state and national lawmakers — is in the process of allocating nearly $10b to preserve and restore these fragile resources after more than a century of unbridled development and abuse.
All of these things either mean something or they don’t.
The Canaveral Port Authority’s plan to hew an 11-mile commercial cargo railway through the northern Banana River and environmentally sensitive wetlands on the margins of the Banana River Lagoon create a clear and present danger to a nationally-significant natural resource.
In closing, I ask that you err on the side of the resource and support Comm. Barfield’s resolution. Greed and myopic vision have brought us to this point; your long-term vision and concern for our community, its residents and resources can help us steer clear.
No projected economic impact warrants the long-term, environmental, quality-of-life and socio-economic devastation that this project would inflict on Brevard County and its residents.