Thank you for running the “Highlights of 2019 MICA Survey” on August 30. The responses are in keeping with the typical residents’ conservatism and desire for fiscal rectitude. However, I was heartened to see that almost 40% of respondents answered “yes” to the notion of bringing vacant lots into community ownership as habitat for the Island’s burrowing owl population.
While one shouldn’t over emphasize the responses from a minority of respondents to a survey covering a minority of voters, I’m personally surprised and delighted the fraction is even that high. However, perhaps naysayers might consider the following. A report entitled “The 2011 Economic benefits of wildlife viewing in Florida,” commissioned by Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission identified wildlife viewing as the second most popular outdoor recreation activity in Florida, surpassing such activities as bicycling, fishing, golf and tennis, generating 44,600 full-time and part-time jobs, and with positive economic effects of $4.9 billion and generating $285 million in state and local tax revenue.
The fact is that visitors come to Marco to see our wildlife, including our owls. While here, wildlife fans pay for all the things other visitors pays for. So, while one may reply “I don’t want my tax dollars spent on stupid owls,” think of it rather as a business opportunity of the type so frequently touted by our community leaders. This one has the added benefit of a passionate, accomplished volunteer community supporting the endeavor, under nationally-renowned leadership. And, if the owls decide to leave, we can always sell the lots! We already have a refuge for eagles, which are not threatened, so why not another for burrowing owls?
Andrew Tyler, Marco Island