Gov. Scott should think about Florida residents, not tourists

If you’re a native Floridian, you know that a major part of living in the Sunshine State is basking in the sun’s rays and enjoying the numerous lakes, canals and beaches.

At least once a week, I find myself catching the sunrise at Bowditch Point, one of the many beautiful and serene alcoves you can find on Estero Island, away from the touristy nightmare you find at the Fort Myers Beach Pier. Although I typically don’t swim in the waters during the cold season, it’s a slice of paradise that is quickly seeing the effects of the Lake Okeechobee releases.

The telltale signs are all there: green water, excess of dead marine life washed up on the shore and the weird smell. It’s hard to ignore the harsh ecological effects that these releases have on the lake, and it’s hitting close to home.

Now, I understand where Florida Gov. Rick Scott may be coming from when he’s concerned about tourism and business to the state. He’s up in his ivory tower in the Panhandle where it’s not so saturated. His allocation of tax money from the It’s Your Money Tax Cut Budget of $130 million last year, however, was a major step in the right direction.

“This $130 million investment from the It’s Your Money Tax Cut Budget will fund critical projects that will improve water quality for families and businesses that rely on these natural treasures,” Scott said in the initial announcement. “These dollars will go towards improving water quality, mitigating impacts of Lake Okeechobee’s discharges on our estuaries and diverting more fresh water south to help restore the Everglades.”

Even if he financially supports the South Florida aquaculture system, his incessant need to invite more and more people to the state may not be helping; more tourism equals more chances of litter in the water, more car emissions and, overall, just more unwanted people crowding our pleasant beaches.

The damaging effects of the lake releases hurt more than just the economy or the tourism industry; they hit home for millions of Floridians, like myself, who enjoy living here mostly because of the beaches and waterways. Scott needs to see that his efforts, although beneficial, are being done for his own interests and not because the Florida natives are mourning the decay of our home.