PUNTA GORDA, Fla. — Ava Lynn Pearson jumped into all the puddles she could along the banks of Charlotte Harbor, just over the bridge leading into Port Charlotte.
Her dad says his family has fished in the harbor from the time they were kids, and its a pastime he hopes to pass onto his own children.
“It’s not about us anymore. It’s about the children.”
Other locals like Paul DeGaeta agree.
“I love this river. I grew up since I was 4 years old walking my beach everyday when I came home from school.”
An educator himself, DeGaeta s also a captain and now…an activist.
“We need to preserve this water," he told FOX 4.
He’s joined forces with other captains, boaters, business owners and individuals to launch “PReaCH”:
The Peace River Charlotte Harbor Environmental Awareness Group. They’re focused on protecting the Greater Charlotte Harbor Estuary.
DeGaeta says the group first gathered last year to speak our against Mosaic Fertilizer’s bid to rezone agriculutural land to mining in Desoto County.
DeGaeta himself testified.
“I’m not a scientist, but I’m an eyewitness,” DeGaeta said.
County commissioners voted against the bid.
The group’s focus now is to encourage others to stand up for local waterways. DeGaeta says the best way to help is to do what the group did previously - just show up.
“We need people to be there, and show there is a concern. And show we’re watching the people who make the decisions.”