PCB Airport vs Ivory Billed Woodpecker


Now, ain’t that a fine How’d’e do this morning?  In the eleventh hour, 2 environmental groups based in D.C. no less and a local pilot’s association have filed a law suit in NY aimed to stop the Bay County Airport from being relocated to West Bay.  If this doesn’t cause a major upheaval in our area in the months to come, I don’t know what will.  Of course, this could just as quietly and quickly disappear as swiftly as it was brought to the table with little fanfare, news coverage or local awareness like we so often see here in nepotism/good ol’ boy/St. Joe land.  I’ll be following this one for sure.

More thoughts to come on the subject….have some work to tend to.

I don’t really have a solid opinion on the new airport, but one thing for certain is that it’s become the shining star for many a contractor, subcontractor, county official, retailer and property owner in Bay and Walton Counties.  Our area has experienced the luxury of being exempt from the fall out of the dot com bubble and 9/11, though NOT from the housing market slow down that’s currently rippling across the country.  In an area that relies predominantly on tourism and second home construction, the airport NOT opening would be a potential cause for alarm as to the sustainablity of our local economy.  On the other hand, just because “they” build it, doesn’t mean “they” will come.  No matter what anyone argues, the numbers say we are swimming in a sea of housing glut, two to three years of inventory.  A lot can happen in 2-3 years.  The new international airport claims to bring people from far and wide to our little piece of paradise often affectionately referred to as the “Redneck Riviera”.  Nice, huh?  And supposedly, all those people who travel from the corners of New York, California and Europe will buy up that housing supply and will demand even more.  You might think I sound a bit cynical for someone who is in the field of designing houses and should be fighting tooth and nail for the arrival of this great airport.  Maybe, maybe not.

Now, what of this Ivory Billed Woodpecker?  Well, there is a local man by the name of MC Davis that has declared over 53,000 acres of his property to be set aside for private conservation.  The land, Nokuse Plantation is a critical piece to a larger tract of connecting land rich in biodiversity that include wetlands, uplands and fresh water communities.  These communities of swamp bottomland happen to be the natural habitat for the ivory billed woodpecker, though the woodpecker is believed to have become extinct, logged out of existence since the 1930’s.  Over the last year, there have been claims of sitings of the great woodpecker and further research by Auburn University has indicated that there may indeed be an Ivory Billed Woodpecker in ‘dem dare woods’.  This is excellent news for Northwest Florida.  Birders from all over the country are traveling to the area in hopes of spotting this wonderful treasure.

Back to the airport.  The environmental groups claim that the FAA may have violated the federal Endangered Species Act due to the spotting of the woodpecker.  Also, they contend the environmental impact is too great and the current location is the best environmental choice.  Wouldn’t you know it, one of those SoWalers says, “It’s just a bird…”  That was probably the same SoWaler that declared (s)he had the right to build whatever beach armament necessary to protect their property from storm surge regardless of sea turtles lives because sea turtles don’t pay taxes.  Nice, huh?  And you wonder why it’s called the Redneck Riviera…

All this, right in my back yard.  Oh, speaking of woodpeckers and the back yard, once again recall my pine trees infested with pine bark beetles.  Well, those trees have attracted a few red bellied woodpeckers that come to feast on the beetles.  It’s almost sad to think that the pine trees will have to go soon.


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