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A Capitol Protest

By James Call

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/wfsu/local-wfsu-906245.mp3

Tallahassee, FL – About a hundred North Florida residents protested at the Capitol Saturday. They say they are mad about what's happening to the pelicans, dolphins, wetlands, and people who fish for a living. James Call reports they fear the Florida they know is slipping away.

"I absolutely fail to believe that there is not an answer to this, and I don't care if they don't cap it 100-percent. What's wrong with getting 30-percent of it? What's wrong with getting 20-percent, something? Spend the money and get it done."

John Rickards is holding a sign that asks "Is anybody in charge?" He is upset by what he perceives to be a lack of an adequate response to the Gulf oil spill. Rickards runs a nursery and is among a cross-generation group of protestors lining Monroe Street in front of the state Capitol Saturday morning. He stands a few yards down from a veteran of Vietnam War demonstrations who wants to seize BP's assets, a middle school student who wants to save the Gulf, and a university student remembering the eleven workers who died when the Deep Horizon exploded seven week ago.

About 40-percent of Gulf waters are closed to fishing, and the oil is approaching the wetlands, sea grass beds and rivers of the Big Bend. Rickards said, "It just makes me ill. I'm not an eloquent speaker, but I certainly know when we are being screwed and we are getting it right now. They've just got to get over the fact that BP is supposed to be taking care of this. BP doesn't have the resources to take care of this. The government has to answer to it."

The worst oil spill in U.S. history began to be felt in Florida on Friday. The wildlife service reported several dead birds had been found along the Panhandle. As the oil slick approached the Big Bend, environmentalists put up a website and issued a call for volunteers. Captain Tony Murray with the Big Bend Coastal Conservancy said help is needed to monitor conditions when the slick begins washing into the wetlands, marshes and estuaries of counties from Franklin to Dixie.

"Both the river and estuarine areas, we would like assistance with people adopting and being stewards for that to be able to get us information and collect samples "

The group can be contacted at saltwaternow.com. Scientists say the spill could transform the marshes, beaches and coastal waters into killing fields. They say the die-off could take months or years and will unfold largely out of sight.