The kids are all right. And a group of teenage environmental activists are proving just that as they take on their county commission. The group of tweens and teens are fighting against a plan by the commission to loosen protections on wetlands, a move that would allow for more development in those areas.
The Manatee County Commission voted 6-1 to reduce local wetlands buffers, aligning with Florida’s overall looser regulations, all to the dismay of residents. But that isn’t the end of it. The proposed comprehensive plan now goes to the state for approval and then will return to the county for a final vote. That vote is what Kids for Clean Water, the child-led activism group, is looking to change.
“I’ve been watching all the things that I love about our nature slowly disappearing, even just over the past five years,” Brice Claypoole, the 15-year-old who founded the group, told the Guardian. “If I want to have these things around for my future in this county, if we want them for future generations, then we need to protect them now or there’s not going to be anything left.”
The group plans to present a series of videos to the commission, educating and expressing just how important the wetlands are to them.
In one video, Colin (in the form of a LEGO) explains the benefits of wetland buffers.
“Wetlands are more than just wet land,” he narrates. “They help protect animals by giving them shelter and food. In addition, wetlands filter water before it goes into the bay. If wetland buffers are removed, there’s less filtration so not only will our wetlands be less healthy, so will our bay.”
But Kids for Clean Water isn’t stopping at one commission vote.
“We’ll try to get people educated and to vote for commissioners who will serve the people rather than serving special interests, and who can make decisions with our community in mind rather than short-term profits,” Brice told the Guardian. “I very much hope the commissioners’ reckless disregard for public input throughout this process will help to get people out there to vote in real representatives.”
If the kids are our future, we’re going to do just fine.
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