DeSantis, Environmental Hero?

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is a big-time supporter of Donald trump. That was the cornerstone of his primary campaign when he was in a serious fight with fellow conservative and Florida Ag Commissioner Adam Putnam to get the nomination on the Republican side.

You can count me with the environmentally-minded voters who believed at the time that the election of DeSantis was going to mean, at minimum, four more years of of disastrous policies for the environment in the Sunshine State. And for the everglades, in particular.

I am very surprised and incredibly relieved to say that those fears were unfounded. I’m delighted to report that DeSantis has shown in at least three ways, that he’s for real about standing up to Big Sugar in Florida and doing all he can to protect our fragile, beleaguered environment here in the Sunshine State.

What I mean, specifically: he issued executive orders to reverse some of Rick Scott’s horrible policies affecting Florida’s ecosystems.

He sacked pretty much everyone who served on any of Florida’s five water management boards and replaced them with people who actually care about environmental issues and were not lackeys of Big Sugar.

And he immediately beefed up funding for efforts to clean up the Everglades. That included a strong commitment by the State to get the project to complete the Everglades reservoir taken off the back burner.

In an opinion piece published on January 11th, Carl Hiaasen, writing in the Miami Herald, summed up some of these happy and completely-unexpected developments. It’s a good place to start if you’d like to see why many folks in Florida are happily admitting that they had Gov. DeSantis pegged all wrong as far as our state’s environmental issues are concerned.

I still believe that Florida’s interests writ large would have been better served by the election of Andrew Gillum.

But I also believe that it’s always appropriate to give credit where credit is due and I’m delighted to say that Mr DeSantis has–at least up to this point in his time as the state’s chief executive–definitely proved that he is a strong friend of Florida’s environment.

 

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

© 2019 Ben Lawrence Basile

I did get back there and…

I did get back there and…

I enjoyed my camping trip to Tosohatchee WMA just beyond Christmas. That awesome but tiny little town is the last community before the Orange-Brevard line.

Had a good time but I did learn one unpleasant lesson: even in a Wildlife Management Area, where you can go days without seeing another human, you really should keep your car locked at all times.

Or, at the very least, you shouldn’t keep that hatch up while you’re doing stuff at your camp site!

My awesome camp coffee maker flew away! Bummed. But I have another. Just couldn’t get the juice of the sacred bean on this trip!

Still very glad I made the trip and got my outdoor fix for the next week or two.

Then I’ll have to have another, or I’ll start getting a little cross-eyed and stuff!

I did get some good pix. Including the banner photo at the top. That was on the extreme edge of Tosohatchee, where it dead ends into the St. Johns River.

Herons and thieves. What a combo! So glad to have gone. Planning the next excursion…

 

 

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

 

Photo credit Ben Lawrence Basile

 

Sheldon is New at the Zoo!

Sheldon is New at the Zoo!

There are three fine zoos within easy driving distance of my part of Florida. I love them all.

The Brevard Zoo in Melbourne is a real pleasure. I’ve spent many hours there checking out the wildlife and I’ve done the zip line, too. A fine facility from start to finish.

And now they have a new dragon! No, I’m completely serious!

His name is Sheldon, he’s an 11 year-old Komodo Dragon and you can find him in the Lands of Change exhibit!

If you’re anywhere around Central Florida, take a trip to Melbourne and pay a visit to Sheldon!

And tell him Bulldog sent you!

 

 

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

 

Photo credit Ben Lawrence Basile

Beauty in the ‘burbs!

Beauty in the ‘burbs!

It’s such a marvelous thing when you find amazing natural beauty in unexpected places.

About two miles from the neighborhood where I live is a web of subdivisions all tagged with the Deerfield name. There are four or five different subs all told; it’s a fairly large development.

On the southern fringe of the complex–yes, off Deerfield Drive–the developers created a large urban wetland that rivals any natural space I’ve seen in Central Florida.

It’s quite beautiful and I’ve often thought that the area would be prime for a photo shoot.

Well, one day last week, I finally got off my fanny and took about 150 shots.

I’m pretty pleased with the result.

Here’s another shot I like a lot. At this point, I was probably fewer than 40 or 50 steps into this lovely space.

It’s too much fun when you’re taking pix to play tricks with shadow and light. I love to shoot in early morning or come out to catch those last two hours of daylight in order to have the most fun possible with shadows.

I’ll get one more in before I publish this post and get on with some “other stuff” that’s calling out for my attention this afternoon. This one captures for me that feeling of blossoming serenity that filled me when I first walked up on this wonderful oasis of tranquility that sits less than a quarter mile from busy John Young Parkway in southern Orange County.

Deerfield-shoot-9-5-18-wrkd-2b (28)

 

May you be blessed with some serene scenes and moments of intense tranquility today.

 

 

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

 

Photo credits Ben Lawrence Basile

 

 

National Wildlife Day is…

National Wildlife Day is…

National Wildlife Day is… well, it’s complicated!

September 4th has been the day to commemorate National Wildlife Day each year, having been established back in 2005 by animal behaviorist Colleen Paige.

As you may know, there’s no shortage of days to celebrate a million different causes; many of them help mightily to get people’s minds, hearts and contributions focused on an event or a cause; some of them are very worthy, indeed.

National Wildlife Day would fall very close to the top of this dog’s list! It’s an occasion that’s very, very close to my heart.

So Colleen Paige, the founder of this noteworthy day, came to believe that, moving forward, it would be advantageous to celebrate the day on February 22nd to honor the memory of Australian zookeeper and conservationist Steve Irwin on his birthday.

Mr. Irwin, admired and loved by so many in the conservation community, entered the world on February 22nd of 1962. So he would have turned 56 this last February had he not died unexpectedly on September 4th of 2006. Yes, that was exactly 12 years ago today. 

Yes, it is complicated! To sum up where we stand with the celebration of National Wildlife Day right now: today is the day we’ve been celebrating NWD for the last 13 years. It’s the first September 4th since the change was declared, so although “thee day” will be coming around next February 22nd, five and a half months from now, it’s still an awesome thing to celebrate wildlife, advocate for policies and things that make it easier for wildlife and even throw some dollars in that direction, right now, today!

Visit the page for this fine and extremely worthy commemoration by  clicking here.

The World Wildlife Fund is a very well-known org doing fine work in this area. I’ve supported them and invite you to visit their site today.

Partnering with local zoos and wildlife parks is another effective way to help expand your awareness about wildlife and to help them survive and thrive!

If, like me, you’re in the Central Florida region, you may want to visit the sites for the Central Florida Zoo in Sanford or the Brevard Zoo in Melbourne by clicking in the appropriate places above.

Happy National Wildlife Day! Sort of!

 

Doing what I can for the cause today, I am,

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

 

 

Photo credit Ben Lawrence Basile

 

Lone Cabbage Fish Camp

Lone Cabbage Fish Camp

If you live in Orlando and go to Cocoa or Cocoa Beach very often, you’ve passed Lone Cabbage Fish Camp, no doubt.

There are several ways to get to the Cocoa area from O’do and I’d venture to say that SR 520 is the most common route if you’re not fond of tolls. The Beach Line Expressway has them, but SR 520 does not.

Lone Cabbage is that little outpost of civilization on your right as you’re crossing the St John’s River and entering Brevard County.

If you don’t turn in at Lone Cabbage in search of an air boat ride–yes, they certainly do those–you’re most likely on a quest for good, local seafood and a beer or two to wash it down.

I had lunch at Lone Cabbage yesterday after about a thousand trips to Cocoa Beach over that well-travel road and I’m glad I did.

I ordered the Catfish Dinner, took it just the way it comes–with hushpuppies, their seasoned fries and slaw and chased it with a Coors Light. (No beer taps in this well-worn and very authentic joint, but about 15 different bottled brands.)

The Catfish was good and the fries were above average. They had lived under a heat lamp just a few moments too long by my standard, but when you sit down in a busy eatery at straight-up noon, that’s how it usually goes.

I love a good, freshly-made cole slaw and theirs was tasty and not overly-sweet. When the sugar kicks all the other ingredients into the back seat–something that’s far from rare in many home-style restaurants–I don’t like it!

I’d like to think that an establishment with cabbage in the name joint would have amazing slaw and although that’s not the case, it’s certainly not a situation where this often under-appreciated side dish warranted “points off”!

Yikes! I’ve become a “slaw snob”!

My impressions of Lone Cabbage Fish Camp are just fine so far. To have a more complete picture, I’d like to have more than only one dish and check out the air boat rides as well. But based on poking around the site and the County Park next to it a couple of times and patronizing it once, I certainly can recommend it. It’s well-known around the East Central Florida region and has been busy the times I’ve stopped by.

The next time you’re breezing down SR 520 mid-way between Cocoa and Orlando, stop in at Lone Cabbage and take in this landmark. You’ll pass a small Brevard Co. Park, James Bourbeau Memorial, where there is a public boat ramp and public rest rooms.

LoneCabb-airboat-rides-sign

And right next door, you’ll find Lone Cabbage. The basic boat ride does not require a reservation, but the bigger packages do. The minimum wait is 30 minutes. The perfect time to grab a quick lunch!

To visit their site and see more about LCFC, including the menu, just click on this link.

 

 

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

 

Photo credits Ben Lawrence Basile

 

 

 

 

Alligator Season begins today

Alligator Season begins today

Here in the Sunshine State, there’s a Gator Season each summer that lasts for 30 days. The season opens today.

If you’d like to know more about gator hunting in these parts,  here’s a bulletin from our Fish And Wildlife Commission where you can get up to date on Gator Season if you wish.

I do hold a Hunting and Fishing license but won’t be out looking for gator hide this year. Don’t have the boat; don’t have the gear!

And you do need to pull tags for gators specifically, as you do in Florida for most game.

Haven’t done it, not likely I ever will but I’m thinking it’s about as intense as hunting gets.

For those of us who aren’t likely to ever join in for real, Swamp People on the History Channel is always an option!

 

Power-relaxing in F-L-A today, I am,

Bulldog Ben Basile

 

Photo credit Ben Lawrence Basile