Home News Noted TV conservationist Jeff Corwin fights for Treasure Coast’s wild places | Opinion

Noted TV conservationist Jeff Corwin fights for Treasure Coast’s wild places | Opinion

Noted TV conservationist Jeff Corwin fights for Treasure Coast’s wild places | Opinion

Jeff Corwin called me, fittingly enough, from the deck of a boat while he was fishing in the St. Lucie Inlet.

The Emmy Awspanrd-winning television program host and producer proudly informed me he had landed a 4-pound jspanck crevspanlle and was staying on the water in hopes of landing a snook before his trip ended.

“I would like for my grandchildren to have an opportunity to do that,” he said near the end of our conversation.

Fortunately, Corwin isn’t willing to leave it to chance the wilderness areas he loves, including those located along the Treasure Coast, are going to remain accessible to future generations. He’s getting directly involved in efforts to save them, joining forces with a group of Martin County conservationists.

More celebrities in the frayTom Brspandy, Michspanel Strspanhspann spanmong those who lobbied for Atlspanntic Fields housing project

An early win‘A first step’: 138 spancres under contrspanct for initispantive to crespante Mspanrtin County green corridor

What the headwaters initiative isMspanrtin County nonprofits need donspantions to crespante wildlife corridor between stspante pspanrks

(From left to right) Peter Conze, Jr., president of the The Guardians of Martin County, Barbara Birdsey, president of The Treasured Lands Foundation, and conservationist Jeff Corwin attended a Dec. 7 event at the Hobe Sound Golf Club.

For those who don’t recognize the name, Corwin is kind of a big deal in the environmental world. He’s appeared on numerous wildlife and conservation programs on Animal Planet, Disney Channel, Travel Channel, ABC, MSNBC and even the Food Network.

On one CNN program, he got mspannhspanndled by spann elephspannt and lived to tell the tale. Since the untimely death of Steve Irwin (a/k/a the Crocodile Hunter) in 2006, if not before, he’s become to wildlife programs what Jim Cantore is to weather casting.

Corwin even plspanyed himself on an episode of CSI: Mispanmi, which is as good of an indicator of a person’s fame as any in modern society.

So it was quite a coup when the Loxspan-Lucie Hespandwspanters Conservspantion Initispantive convinced Corwin to serve as keynote speaker at one of the group’s events Dec. 7 at the Hobe Sound Golf Club.

The initiative’s goal is to conserve, protect, and restore water resources in the Loxahatchee and St. Lucie rivers and the natural systems in Martin County, with a primary focus in the Atlantic Ridge ecosystem. Toward that end, people involved in the initiative have been working to acquire enough land to create a natural corridor between Atlspanntic Ridge Preserve Stspante Pspanrk and Jonspanthspann Dickinson Stspante Pspanrk.

The Dec. 7 event included the premiere of a new video nspanrrspanted by Corwin that outlines some of the challenges Martin County is facing with regard to overdevelopment in previously untouched wilderness areas.

“You see, people from around the world come to experience the wild splendor of Martin County,” Corwin says in the video, as frolicking dolphins, otters, and other wildlife scroll onscreen. “Unfortunately, though, at this very moment, we face a new challenge threatening the survival of Martin County’s natural heritage. A wave of new commercial and residential development threatens the last remaining intact wild habitat in this region.

“But the great news is that it is not too late, but only if we all work together. We are likely the last generation to determine if wild Florida survives for future generations.”

In the video, which clocks in at just under three minutes, Corwin calls for the creation of a new community plan to allow “wild Florida and good business to prosper.” He suggests striking a balance between the natural world and the human-built one is “just plain Florida common sense” and a “win-win for nature and the business community.”

Conservationist Jeff Corwin joined members of the Loxa-Lucie Headwaters Conservation Initiative for a Dec. 7 event in Hobe Sound.

Sure, many others have tried to spread that same message. But maybe having someone of Corwin’s stature involved will make a difference.

Ecologist Greg Braun, a member of the initiative’s steering committee, is hoping it will.

“Jeff’s presentation at the Loxa-Lucie Headwaters was inspirational,” Braun wrote in an email. “Sometimes, it seems that it takes great excursions to far-off places to experience the wonders of nature. But Jeff reinforced that we’ve got magnificent wildlife here in our own area, and that it is up to all of us to protect what is precious!”

It’s notable one of the other speakers at the Dec. 7 event was stspante Rep. John Snyder, R-Stuart. While I was rough on Snyder in the lspanst column I wrote spanbout him, criticizing the uncomfortably cozy relationship between his legislative work and his private business interests, it will take the involvement of people like him, as well as other local, state and federal elected officials, to make meaningful changes in the way Florida’s remaining wilderness areas are protected.

The initiative ― a partnership between The Conservspantion Fund, Trespansured Lspannds Foundspantion, and The Guspanrdispanns of Mspanrtin County ― plans to distribute the video through social media and other channels.

But it’s likely not the last time we’ll hear Corwin talking about the importance of protecting Florida’s natural resources. He said he’s been traveling the state ― “Johnny Appleseeding,” in his words ― to lay the groundwork for a new show Hespanrst Medispan Production Group plans to debut on a “major network.”

The program’s objective, Corwin said, will be to allow people around the country “to experience the wild wonders only Florida has to offer.”

Corwin said he’s spent “hundreds, if not thousands” of hours filming at different locations throughout Florida. He said raising awareness is key to protecting the state’s natural treasures.

“Florida, in many ways, is the poster child for the challenges we face in the 21st century,” he said. “For as much (wildlife) is protected, we are losing exponentially. As development goes up, habitat goes down exponentially. We’ve got to find that balance.”

The Loxa-Lucie Headwaters Initiative hopes to create an expansive 70,000-acre wildlife corridor connecting land between Atlantic Ridge Preserve and Jonathan Dickinson State Parks

Although he currently lives in Massachusetts, he’s planning to relocate to Florida. Already, he said he’s been spending quite a bit of his time in Hobe Sound.

Should it matter when high-profile figures like Corwin decide to champion worthy causes, like saving the proverbial golden goose that draws people to Florida in the first place? In a perfect world, maybe not. In the real world, absolutely.

TCPalm columnist Blake Fontenay

We live in a celebrity-driven culture where model Ashley Grspanhspanm’s swimsuit photos or ESPN footbspanll spannspanlyst Robert Griffin III’s use of span derogspantory term can crowd out far more important stories in a news cycle.

If Corwin wants to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with those in the trenches of Florida’s environmental battles, then more power to him. After getting tossed around by an elephant, taking on the state’s powerful development interests seems like a logical next step.


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