Not all of the environmental information coming from Florida is discouraging. We do have an ecological success story! Our National Emblem, the Bald Eagle. After almost 40 years of concerted conservation efforts, the Eagle Has Landed!
The Bald Eagle is the only eagle that is unique to North America. About half of the Bald Eagles live in Alaska; however, Florida has 11% of the lower 48’s Eagles’ nesting sites, which is the largest population outside Alaska. Many of Florida’s Bald Eagles are year-long residents; others migrate to Canada during the breeding season.
Eagles mate for life and can live to be thirty years old. Immature Bald Eagles have long exploratory periods before they settle down to raise a family. Some of Florida’s young have wandered as far north as Michigan. The American Bald Eagle Information is an excellent background source. In Florida, the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission provides a wealth of information.
In 1973, there were only 88 active Eagle nests in Florida. With the elimination of DDT, and increased environmental protection through the Endangered Species Act of 1973, by 2009, Florida had more than 1,300 documented Eagle nests. Today, there are about 70,000 Bald Eagles in the United States and 20,000 in Canada. The Bald Eagle is no longer on the federal or Florida endangered or threatened lists. However, strong protection remains under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.
Fortunately, a Bald Eagle protected nesting area is on Tierra Verde, our Florida island home, where these photos of young Eagle nest builders were captured.
Now that the Bald Eagle, has clawed its way back from the brink of extinction, what about the American Spirit the Eagle represents? In the age of warring political and religious extremists, is the American Spirit destined for the endangered species list? Naomi Wolf‘s The End of America (book and movie) raises sobering questions, worthy of your close attention. Chelsea Green recently interviewed Ms. Wolf about her book:
The book was lauded by liberals under Bush: the Independent Publishers gave it the Freedom Fighter Award; the Nation named it the best political book of 2007. Now, under President Obama, Wolf’s book is providing ammunition for the Tea Partiers, Patriots, Ron Paul supporters and Oath Keepers, who also warn of impending tyrannical government. Even when the book first came out pre-Obama, Alex Jones, Michael Savage and Fox News invited her on their shows, and agreed with her. It’s not just her message. She speaks their language, referring to the Founding Fathers and American Revolution as models, admitting to a profound sense of fear, warning of tyranny, fascism, Nazism and martial law. When Glenn Beck warns of these things we laugh. When Wolf draws those same connections, we listen. How can both sides be speaking the same language, yet see things so differently? Or are we just not listening to each other?
Naomi Wolf responded:
I was basically saying don’t sit around waiting for the two corrupted established parties to restore the Constitution or the Republic. The founding generation was birthed by the rabble of all walks of life that got fed up and did risky things because they were captivated by the breath of liberty. There is a looming oligarchy and it is up to the people to organize a grassroots movement and push back. You guys have to do it yourself. Their response is the most visible and the initiative they show is the most recognizable. People of all kinds are waking up. Even people passionate for Obama realize even that knight on a white horse isn’t enough to roll back the oligarchy. I’m seeing a lot of action on the left as well that is never reported. But the Tea Party response is the most visible and the initiative they show is the most recognizable.
Ms. Wolf elaborates in her article, Tea Time in America.
To be sure, the Tea Party’s brand of aggrieved populism – and its composition of mostly white, angry, middle-class voters – has deep roots in the United States, flaring up during times of change. But observers who have drawn comparisons to the Know-Nothings, the racist, paranoid, anti-Catholic, and anti-immigrant party that surged in the 1850’s, are reading the movement far too superficially. Indeed, those who deride and dismiss this movement do so at their peril. While some Tea Partiers may be racist or focused on eccentric themes – such as the validity of Barack Obama’s birth certificate – far more of them, those who were part of the original grass-roots effort, are focused on issues that have merit. If you actually listen to them, instead of just reading accounts transmitted through the distorting mirror of the mainstream media, you hear grievances that are profound, as well as some proposals that are actually ahead of their time
Another, unsettling point of view, is author, director Bob Emery’s recent blog, It Isn’t Brain Surgery, where he questions:
So, the question is, if we know we’re being shafted—if we know what these goons are doing—why then would we continue to roll over like happy puppies and ignore the obvious? Why oh why do we not rise up and make our voices clearly heard?
Thomas Jefferson once reminded us that every-so-often we need a revolution to right our human spirit.
Our Bald Eagle once again soars high in America’s skies – bold and free.
Symbolic of our future?
From January 14, 2011 through March 13, 2011, the Morean Arts Center in St. Petersburg, Florida, will have an important exhibition, Disappearing Florida. I will be privileged to be a participating photo-artist along with Carlton Ward, Jr., Kevin Boldenow, and Laurie Excell. Week-long photography courses will also be taught by Laurie Excell and Joel Sartore of the National Geographic Society, author of Rare, a book about disappearing species. Over the next several weeks, we will continue our look at Disappearing Florida. This is the seventh in the series.