Saturday, January 18, 2014

When Turtles Got Attorney's Fees

What makes America great is not its people. Yes, we have SOME great people, but what country does not?

What makes America great is not our history.  If you think about the way we have treated native Americans, black Americans, gay Americans, women, and foreigners, you might see a pattern and realize that we are not much better than anyone else.  If you look at the number of wars we have entered into for entirely fabricated reasons, you might think we might be a little less better than some.

What makes America great is not its strip malls or crowded for-profit theme parks.

So what makes America great?  

Quite a lot, and the list is long, but I would put near the top of that list our land ethic and wildlife management systems.  

Here, I think we are second to none, and one reason for that is the legal protections we extend to certain wild places and wildlife.

Consider the case of  the turtles.  

Back in the 1990s Volusia County, Florida (aka Daytona Beach) decided to allow people to drive their cars onto a lot of the beaches during daylight hours.  At the same time, the County also dramatically eased up on restrictions for artificial lighting along the beach front.

Driving on beaches crushes sea turtle nests, and bright lights along the shore disorient nesting sea turtles. Both practices, quite clearly, would harm sea turtle populations that nest along that part of Florida's coast.

What to do?

Well, the turtles did what you might do if someone ruined your ability to have sex and procreate -- the sued in court.  And YES, the turtles were indeed the named plaintiffs in this Endangered  Species Act case, following along after other species that had sued before them, such as the Marbled Murrelet (a type of North pacific sea bird ), the Palila (a type of Hawaiian bird), the Florida Key Deer, and the Mount Graham Squirrel.

In the end, the turtles won their case, the permits to drive on the beach and light it up like a parking lot were repealed, and the lawyers for the turtles got attorney fees for their troubles.  

More importantly, the turtles got back a place to lay their eggs.

Today, the Volusia Turtle Patrol monitors the beaches in Ponce Inlet, Wilber-by-the-Sea, Daytona Beach, Ormond Beach, and Ormond-by-the-Sea for sea turtles nests from May 1 until September 30th. For $40, you can help the cause by "adopting a nest."

THAT is what America great!

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