ENGLEWOOD — As a wildlife photographer, witnessing the ongoing impact of red tide on fish, sea turtles, dolphins and manatees deeply impacts Julie Doyle.
Sharing similar concerns with other residents, Doyle joined a dozen members of Englewood Indivisible Wednesday morning along Indiana Avenue (State Road 776) holding signs reminding motorists red tide is still an issue in Southwest Florida. Many in nearby vehicles honked in support of the signs.
“I love to photograph dolphins,” Doyle said. “I think we are up to 49 dead this year, mostly due to red tide.”
Doyle said it’s also difficult to see so many of her friends struggling after persistent red tide won’t leave the region.
“Everybody around here is still having a difficult time,” Doyle said. “The dish washers, the waitresses, the restaurants are still taking a hit because it was such a bad summer. I have a friend who is an entertainer. One after another, his gigs were canceled. He’s also a crabber. So even his plan B for an income didn’t work either this year. Even the fun things like beach yoga, had to be held inside and the drum circles were canceled.”
Doyle said she’s new to the Englewood Indivisible group, however, likes that it helps educate members on environmental and other important issues. They recently carried the red tide-related signs in the Pioneer Days Parade as well. Again, they received cheers from locals who know the problem isn’t going away.
Sherry O’Connell wrote “Ode To Red Tide,” a poem which is intended to show that the community is still struggling with red tide’s stench and destruction.
“Clean water is bipartisan,” said member of one year, Steve Doublestein. “We should get a lot of support from drivers because clean water should be a concern for everyone.”
The group’s leader Jane Hunter said residents can have a voice in fixing the problem by limiting fertilizers (which are believed to contribute to red tide blooms) or not using them at all during the rainy season. She favors native plants that don’t need a lot of water or fertilizer to thrive.
“Because of the red tide, I don’t go outside unless the wind is coming from the east,” Hunter said. “I’m good at telling it now.”
Hunter said another way to get involved is register to vote by Oct. 6 to be able to participate in the Nov. 6 General Election.
“There are candidates who are environmentally conscious,” she said. “We have been reviewing the Florida League of Conservation which rates politicians and candidates on their voting history.”
Susan Busko, deputy leader of the group, said the League of Conservation, a non-partisan political voice for protecting Florida’s environment, scores how elected officials and candidates did on Florida’s waters and conservation lands issues.
“The Florida League of Conservation gave positions on both governor candidates,” Busko said. “They rated Rick DeSantis 2 percent for his national environmental scorecard. It’s telling, when the score is so low on a list of things the politician has or hasn’t done to protect Florida’s environment.”
Englewood Indivisible has so far supported Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum for governor. They are following the Florida League of Conservation’s report that Gillum knows “climate change is a real and urgent threat to Florida’s quality of life and economy.” They reported, Gillum believes protecting the Everglades and Lake Okeechobee is a priority and pledged to work to keep the water clean from toxic algae blooms, and fight to protect Florida’s access to clean water sources.
“At our Saturday meeting, we will be reviewing the candidates and our endorsement process,” Hunter said.
The group meets at 3 p.m. Saturday at the Elsie Quirk Library, 100 W. Dearborn St., Englewood. The public is welcome.
“We don’t want the politicians who took money from polluters and let them pollute,” Hunter said. “We are working for candidates who will take care of our environment, our healthcare and our schools.”
For more info, visit www.FL17Indivisible.com