These things I take with me
As I See It
Monday, August 01, 2011
Media contact: Rodney Barreto
This will be my last "As I See It" column, and I wanted to take
a moment and reflect on how far the Florida Fish and Wildlife
Conservation Commission team has come in the past 10 years. I have
been honored to work with Commissioners and staff who are not only
dedicated to the mission of the Commission but also passionate in
managing fish and wildlife resources for their long-term well-being
and the benefit of people.
I am proud to note that Floridians have more hunting and fishing
opportunities now than before. Thirty new areas with public hunting
have been added in the past five years, totaling an additional
We all understand the need to reach out to our
youth, and a hunting initiative that I am particularly proud of is
the new youth turkey hunting weekend, allowing hunting on 78
FWC-managed areas. The youth turkey hunts on these wildlife
management areas will be two-day, Saturday-Sunday hunts on the
weekend prior to the opening of spring turkey season on each
particular WMA, beginning with the 2012 season.
It is so important to expose young people to
outdoor recreational opportunities. The more our youth experience
wildlife and nature, the more likely they are to grow up to
appreciate these resources and to pass along outdoor traditions to
In addition to expanded hunting opportunities, we
constantly strive to make sure Florida has plentiful fishing
resources. Florida is the "Fishing Capital of the World." What
angler doesn't look forward to the thrill of hearing a reel sing as
line peels out. We are the world's destination for visitors who
want to catch tarpon, bonefish and permit, and I am especially
proud of our catch-and-release program for these "rock stars" of
saltwater fishing. The Commission has worked hard to ensure
Floridians and our visitors have the opportunity to catch a big
Another opportunity is the expansion of this year's
bay scallop season. It kicked off on June 25 and runs through Sept.
25, starting a week early and running two weeks longer than usual.
This is great family fun and gives our visitors and residents the
chance to take advantage of this fun outdoor activity.
Recognizing that anglers and hunters are just a part of
Florida's conservation community, I am proud of the vast resources
available to wildlife viewers in our state made possible through
our various partnerships. The Great Florida Birding and Wildlife
Trail represents only one aspect of wildlife viewing enjoyed by
residents and visitors alike. The FWC worked with the Wildlife
Foundation of Florida and the Florida Department of Transportation
to create this network of 500 birding sites and 2,000 miles of
self-guided highway trails throughout Florida.
There are many things that I will take with me as I leave the
Commission, including many memories, friendships and
accomplishments that I share with my fellow Commissioners and FWC
I'd like to thank my fellow Commissioners and FWC staff for
their hard work and dedication in helping to make all these public
opportunities possible, in addition to their years of support and
friendship. I have been honored to work with a group of people who
are passionate about wildlife issues and consider the work they do
to be a calling, as have I.
Finally, I want to thank former governors Bush and Crist. I will
always be honored and humbled by the confidence they showed me when
they appointed me to the Commission as well as their continued
support that made this journey possible.