Life for Carissa Kent

It was what they call in the shopping world “Black Friday.” I never ever participated in that, but at least I know the term. Carissa had been working though out Thanksgiving day as well, at this same project. She rescues gopher tortoises.

Why? Because of her passion to protect…. to allow a life for….. gopher tortoises. Developers, who are now in high gear everywhere in Florida, are looking to wring every last dime of profit from a piece of land, even if it is sand in some remote corner in a county that has no view and little else to look at. That’s what we found in Citrus County, far from beaches or space shuttles.

Baby Tortoise rescued on Black Friday. Not a Black Friday for this one!!!
Baby Tortoise rescued on Black Friday. Not a Black Friday for this one!!!

Where did our culture go so wrong? Why has “Black Friday” become linked to more consumer spending? I cannot fathom it.

Ranger: “Hey, I’m waiting for therapy to begin, and you’re just ranting and raving to yourself.”

Me: “Sorry. I am so caught up in this story, of a young woman who quit her job and now spends every waking hour working on a rescue effort. Developers were used to just pouring cement into the burrows of the tortoise…. these are burrows which house up to 350 species of animals! Can you believe it? It’s expedient for developers, who are motivated to make a profit at the expense of nature. They probably don’t know anything but that motive.”

Ranger: “Tell me more about that Friday.”

Me: “We arrived at the new housing development near Lecanto (trust me it’s mostly in the middle of nowhere) and found the new subdivision. Carissa had spent the night before cooking for all the volunteers, if you can believe that, in addition to directing the project. Even lentil soup in a crock pot! And we filmed the tortoises that had already been rescued. We filmed the dig of the backhoe as the newest burrow was torn up. They need to do that in order to get at the tortoise, which can be many yards from the entrance.”

Ranger: “So what happens to this baby tortoise, and the others rescued that day?”

Me: “They get taken to a new home. Many will find that new home at the Nokuse Plantation. We’ve talked about that endlessly before in other sessions, so that part is not news to you.”

Ranger: “Yeah, it’s not news. I just wish you’d bring me along next time.”

Me: “Let’s determine that Black Friday means a lot more than I find in my newspaper!

Effects of Reforestation

To my readers who expect I’m going to move on from the Nokuse Plantation, you can guess again. It is more compelling every time I look at it or the data that flows from it.

Let’s say that we look at a map of the United States, one that shows how temperature is rising. We’ve had record setting temperatures throughout the country in the last decade. Every month has exceeded the corresponding month from the year before. This is even more alarming given the expected trend would be lower under normal circumstances. The cycle of glaciation SHOULD be bringing us to a cooler place.

Yet we experience record-breaking temperatures every month…..

But if you are looking carefully, one geographic area of the U.S. stands out as an exception to the rule of increased temperatures: southern Alabama, southern Georgia, and northern Florida (the Panhandle, including northern Walton County) are actually cooler. I am cautioned by Matt Aresco, the director of Nokuse, to be cautious in my optimism, because in their particular geographic area they are not a witness to anything but increased temperatures, he believes because of increased agricultural acreage. But being an eternal optimist I believe that Nokuse has impacted temperatures for the better, even though the benefits are not keeping up to the increased people impact on the “Redneck Rivera” on the coast.

And Walton County is the home of the Nokuse! The Nokuse represents reforestation at it’s best, recreating the long-leaf habitat.

Is it the ability of trees and their accompanying foliage that reflects light better than agricultural acres? Or is it something else? One thing I do know is that it certainly better to have the long-leaf habitat than acres dedicated to corn, barley or sorghum. And the gopher tortoises that are rescued certainly like it better!

Ranger: “Are you done talking to yourself now?”

Me: “Probably, at least until we head out next week to witness the capturing of gopher tortoises that are in the path of development. Speaking of which, are you witnessing the crazy housebuilding across the road? It’s pretty discouraging for us to see the neighborhood of horse pastures being torn up.”