Selby Gardens Consorts with Phosphate Industry Oct. 2013

My “Letter to the Editor” (below) was published in the Bradenton Herald Tribune on December 9th. I submitted it simultaneously to the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Tampa Bay Times, but am unaware that it was published by them since I was out of state at the time….

To hold Selby Gardens accountable for disavowing their stated mission and to inform their leadership of the environmental destruction caused by phosphate strip mining I have also been trying to arrange a meeting with the CEO of Selby Gardens, Mr. Thomas Buchter. He sent me the following short reply:

Dennis, when you are ready to get all nonprofits in the region that have received a grant from Mosaic Co. to support their mission then I will look forward to meeting with you (sic).

Selby Gardens Consorts with Phosphate Industry

Dear Editor,

It is disillusioning, to say the least, to learn that an historic icon of Sarasota, Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, accepts financial assistance from the phosphate strip mining company, Mosaic. The Mosaic logo was prominently displayed on the home page of Selby Gardens during the month of October in a $50,000 matching funds agreement for a children’s rainforest exhibit.

Mosaic is more than happy to have its name associated with organizations like Selby Gardens to boost its image as a “friend of the environment,” the thrust of its pervasive public relations campaign conveyed through television ads, public radio sponsorships, billboards, newspaper ads and direct mailings.

How can we forget that the phosphate industry has been ravaging eco-systems and wildlife habitat throughout west central Florida for generations in their quest for ore to manufacture fertilizer products sold on the global market? Phosphate strip mining burdens ground water resources, destroys wetlands and streams, creates thousands of acres of clay waste and toxic chemical disposal sites and permanently altars native soil conditions. Their attempts at “reclamation” have never replicated the fragile native environment that they systematically destroy to enhance their profits.

More specifically phosphate strip mining permanently eradicates the ecological conditions upon which native epiphytes or orchids depend for survival, yet in their mission statement Selby Gardens, which prides itself as being a ” world leader in conservation and display of epiphytes” states that they are committed “… to understand and conserve epiphytes and their natural habitats in a rapidly changing world.”

The phosphate strip mining industry is currently seeking permits to mine an additional 50,000 acres of native Florida prairies, woods and wetlands in Manatee, Hardee and DeSoto Counties. How many more native epiphytes will be permanently lost if these permits are allowed?

It seems to me that Selby Gardens should keep their word to preserve and protect native epiphyte habitats in west central Florida, and not consort with the very industry that is the perpetrator of their demise.

Dennis Mader
People for Protecting Peace River
www.protectpeaceriver.org
4224 Solomon Road
Ona, FL 33865

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