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Bearfield Named New Leader of Collier Waterkeeper

Ray Bearfield was recently appointed because the Collier County Waterkeeper, a neighborhood chapter of a nationwide effort to guard America’s waterways.

Bearfield, 72, grew up in Richmond, Indiana, and his family moved to Tennessee when he was in highschool. He attended East Tennessee State University and moved to Naples in 1976, when he became a contract author and fishing guide.

Bearfield moved away from Naples years ago but returned last fall (he closed on a condo two days after Hurricane Ian made landfall).

The nonprofit Waterkeeper Alliance has grown its presence tremendously in Southwest Florida within the last six years as retiree and Calusa Waterkeeper Emeritus John Cassani developed a program for the Caloosahatchee River and the Fort Myers-Sanibel area.

Cassani developed Calusa Waterkeeper to the purpose that the group’s social media posts reach as much as 700,000 accounts.

Bearfield hopes to grow the Collier chapter right into a larger, more influential group that oversees water and environmental issues in Southwest Florida.

So we ask Bearfield to reply five questions:

What does Collier County Waterkeeper need most as a corporation?

We’d like the support of concerned residents who recognize that politics, partisanship, and self-serving agendas should never distract us from protecting the very life’s blood of Collier County.

People from world wide come here to enjoy a paradise that needs pure water to survive. We’ve had a taste of what red tide and cyanobacteria can do to our beaches, our tourism industry, our fisheries, and our very health. The Waterkeeper intends to prove that residents who recognize our common need for drinkable, swimmable, fishable water should never be divided and distracted by labels and superficial divisions.

They are saying water is the universal solvent. We hope to prove that it’s also the universal glue. It binds us in a typical cause to the good thing about us all.

How do you intend to construct a following for the group and grow membership?

Based on the newest head counts, we have now about 375,000 probabilities to attach with people and share our message. A big percentage of recent residents attracted by the world’s natural beauty realize it requires habits and practices that didn’t apply of their previous homes to maintain it healthy.

I once helped develop environmental education schemes at Rookery Bay, and I’m constructing a team that can proceed that work and make it available to students, to residents’ groups, and to policymakers.

I’m working with some very enthusiastic and passionate individuals who’re filled with ideas for celebrations and fun activities.

I’m also a journalist whose focus for the reason that Nineteen Seventies has been the environment of Southwest Florida and the necessity to balance its health with the demands of a growing population. I plan to co-host with longtime environmentalist Franklin Adams a weekly podcast, and to proceed my writing in regards to the issues that challenge us. We’ll cover current events and tell some great stories in regards to the old days.

What’s the largest water issue facing Collier County straight away?

It’s a lack of information. We don’t know what we don’t know. As a culture, we expect of water as an inexhaustible commodity. We stare upon our beautiful sunsets, and we will’t fathom anything large enough or sinister enough to harm something that stretches farther than we will see. We peer into blue water as we walk white beaches and think all is correct with the world.

It will not be. I’m very careful to not be an alarmist because we’ve all read far too many stories that say the sky is falling. But neither can we ignore the signs around us. And people signs are troubling. Our water is increasingly being asked to cover the things we wish to get out of sight. With every flush of a rest room, every ounce of rubber from our tires rubbed into our roads, every shot of fertilizer the rains wash from our lawns and gardens, we’re upsetting the natural balance.

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More:State gives $5 million grant to Lee County for local beaches impacted heavily by Ian

As Waterkeeper, I need to assist people understand that we live in a large goldfish bowl, and all the pieces that falls in our water changes it in ways in which make our lives smaller. We don’t have as many places to fish. Or swim. Or find something pure enough to drink.

What are your thoughts on red tide and what looks like stronger, long-lasting blooms?

I’m not a scientist, so I depend upon what I learn from those that are. But I remember a time when those that knew probably the most were ignored because their message threatened the economic established order.

Larry Brand, a water quality expert from the University of Miami, told Lee County leaders back in 2005 that discharges from Lake Okeechobee and from phosphate mines were suspects within the red tide blooms happening in 2005. He was ignored.

Brand said he was in a position to filter the outcomes of a recent study by Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute that featured data collected between 1954 and 2006 and document a rise in nutrients he said contributed to a 14-fold increase in red tides for the reason that Nineteen Fifties.

Fifteen years after Brand began warning us, and 30 years after red tide outbreaks became more frequent, we’re finally facing the issue. As Waterkeeper, I hope we will contribute to an answer. It starts with helping people recognize the causes.

What would you want the general public to learn about you and Collier Waterkeeper?

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