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Ban the Plastic Straw

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Published in local newspapers June 2018 -- In early February, the News-Press published an article about the remarkable news that Fort Myers Beach now has a ban on plastic drinking straws.I thought to myself, “If Fort Myers Beach can do this, then Sanibel certainly can!”
After reading the newspaper, I went for my morning walk.On that walk I saw my neighbor, city council member Jason Maughan, and asked him what he thought of the idea.He was positive.We talked about how many more straws were probably on Fort Myers Beach because of all the commercial enterprises there.But there are some near-beach establishments where plastic straws are routinely used on Sanibel.
The first person I ever heard talk about the environmental threats posed by plastic drinking straws was Carolyn Raffensperger, our keynote speaker at the Committee of the Islands (COTI) annual meeting in 2011.Several COTI board members took Carolyn out to lunch and there she made a point of ordering her ice water with “no straw.”Th…

A Pelican in Peril

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April 21, 2018 -- A sick pelican sat in the middle of the road, just ahead of me, on Castaways Lane.  In the early morning in late April, these streets are quiet.  Maybe I was the first person to see the sick pelican, as I nearly completed my hour-long walk.  I hoped he wasn't sick; perhaps he'd just consumed a large fish and was temporarily impaired.  So I walked the short distance of Tropical Way and back, hoping to find that the pelican had flown away.

No, the big bird was still there, stubbornly sitting smack in the middle of the blacktop.  Something was wrong with him; my guess was that red tide poisoning was his problem. 


I've taken small birds to CROW (Care and Rehabilitation of Wildlife -- a wildlife hospital on Sanibel Island) in the past.  But I'm not trained in how to handle big birds. 

So I called CROW.  Thank heavens for mobile phones!  I wanted to call my neighbor Jim, whom I know does rescue big birds regularly.  But I didn't have his number.  When t…

Clean Water for Charleston Park

Margaret Mead famously said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.”  It happened recently in Lee County.
On the last weekend of October 2017, the News-Press published an exposé about a drinking water quality problem in Charleston Park – a rural community of about 112 households, between Alva and LaBelle.  Most people living there use wells to supply water to their homes.  For decades, Lee County officials have known that water from these wells is filled with bacteria and nitrates, but the problem was never adequately addressed.  The county has no legal obligation to solve problems with drinking water from private wells.
After reading the exposé, a small number of people from various parts of the county were sufficiently concerned about this continuing problem that they contacted the News-Press reporter, Janine Zeitlin, who wrote most of the articles in the exposé.  She then connected thes…