There is a new buzzword in town. Ecologinomical: That which protects the ecology in order to preserve the economy. It was the focus of the recent Charlotte Harbor and the Gulf Islands Visitor Bureau Tourism Luncheon, at which Peace River Wildlife Center’s very own Luna, the leucistic screech owl, was an honored guest. Luna is the face of PRWC and nothing exemplifies this concept better than an organization that strives to educate people how to live in harmony with the beauty of the natural world that surrounds us here in Charlotte County and beyond.
Capt. Marian Schneider was inducted into the Tourism Hall of Fame as an Ecotourism Pioneer. She founded and ran Grande Tours out of Placida for over 25 years, providing tours and kayak rentals. More importantly she passed on her sense of profound pride in Charlotte Harbor and helped hook countless other people with her enthusiasm for the natural beauty that makes this area so special.
The Shark Brothers were the keynote speakers. Sean and Brooks Paxton grew up in a roving rock and roll family of talented musicians and never learned the meaning of words like mundane or ordinary. They too exemplify the ecologinomical spirit—by protecting the resources of a naturally beautiful area like Charlotte County we will not only reap the rewards in the short term, but multiply them many fold in the long run. Build a condominium and one developer gets rich, while 50 people enjoy a great view. Leave that tract of land open to the public and over the years many thousands of visitors will fall in love with the area and pump money into the local economy.
Charlotte County Commissioner, Chris Constance introduced the concept of ecologinomical at the luncheon with this heartfelt explanation:
Most of us were drawn to this special place by the sunshine, the harbor, our incredible fishery, our diverse wildlife and, of course, our beaches. We fell in love with the ecology. It is the single most valuable asset we have. Every day decisions are made that impact our ecology. Some of these decisions are made by local government; some by state or federal government; and, perhaps, equally important, by each of us as individual caretakers of our natural resources. We make decisions about what we put on our lawns or down our drains. We make decisions about products we buy and how we consume energy. Collectively, we must make a decision about our commitment to the preservation of our ecology and we must have a vision for what we want for our county in 20, 50 or even 100 years. If we do not protect our ecology, what happens to our economy?
It may be impossible to improve upon the passion of Capt. Marion, the drive of the Shark Brothers or the eloquence of Commissioner Constance; but each of us in our own way can have a lasting impact on the ecology of the area. Recycle your newspaper instead of throwing it in the trash. Take fishing line off of the mangroves. Pick up and dispose of someone else’s litter. Volunteer at PRWC, or one of the countless other agencies around the county that rely on philanthropic folks to further their missions. Get involved in local politics. Just enjoy the beauty of your own backyard while sipping your morning coffee. Take nothing for granted.
by- Robin Jenkins, DVM