Lace Blue-McLean/Guest Column to the Chronicle
Beginning with its inception in 1995, the heart of Citrus 20/20 Inc. was always “Living in Harmony with Nature” (originally named Nature & Man), with our water resources repeatedly identified as Citrus County’s core issue.
From the 1996 March to the Mall, to the 1999 Vision Check, to the 2007 Vision Check, the citizens of Citrus County repeatedly affirmed that our water resources and the natural resources that they support are the key to our quality of life, as well as our ability to sustain residential and economic growth. It was only at the 2010 Vision Check following the 2008 Great Recession that our water resources took a second place to economic development.
Recognizing the importance of our water resources for shaping our county’s future, Citrus 20/20’s foundation and preamble states:
“In 1995, Citrus 20/20 found that what is treasured most in Citrus County is the unique and irreplaceable wealth of the county’s natural resources. Most particularly, we treasure the water resources in the county’s lakes, springs, rivers and estuaries along the gulf, as well as the inter-related underground aquifer that supplies them and gives us our drinking water. It is recognized that our future economic and physical well-being, our desire for managed growth, and our semi-rural ambiance depend upon our ability to take a balanced stand.”
The original vision statement said in part:
“By the year 2020, Citrus County will have become a place where nature and man live in harmony. Citrus Countians recognize the many treasures of the county — its people who form a caring community, its sense of safety and security in a small-town atmosphere, our excellent education systems, and our clean water resources ...”
The focus of our clean water resources led to the creation of Save Our Waters Week, which sponsored activities to promote public appreciation, awareness and consensus to save our waters, as well as candidate forums to encourage all candidates to educate themselves on water issues.
This, in turn, led to a unified effort of elected officials and an informed electorate to allocate resources and political support to expand central sewer to the environmentally sensitive areas along our coast. We continue to remove failing package plants and polluting septic systems from the watershed of our county’s rivers, which all seven of our rivers bear the distinction of being classified as Outstanding Florida Waters. Our lakes region to the east warrants similar actions.
With it becoming more and more difficult to attract volunteers to help keep the vision moving forward and waning interest from county government leadership, the board members of Citrus 20/20 made the difficult decision to dissolve the organization in 2016.
However, given the success of Citrus 20/20’s Save Our Waters Week, its committee and activities have continued under the nonprofit umbrella of Keep Citrus County Beautiful, an organization that Citrus 20/20 had been partners with over the years.
So here we are in the year 2019 — with only months away from 2020. Do we just keep gliding along hoping to maintain the balance between Nature and Man? No! We must continue to look and plan forward.
Thanks to the initiative of Janice Warren, one of the original Citrus 20/20 steering committee members, the Citrus 2030 Steering Committee was formed to move Citrus County’s vision forward to the year 2030. Teaming up with the Citrus County Chamber of Commerce, some of the original Citrus 20/20 members, and our county’s young, aspiring community leaders, the new steering committee seeks to energize our community to once again look to and plan for the future.
And here is the key to the success of Citrus 2030 — the involvement and infusion of young residents who are our future community leaders. Many young leaders in our community are now part of this newly formed steering committee and are dedicated to helping steer our county to the year 2030 and beyond.
So, are you ready to be part of planning for our county’s future? Are you ready to help protect what is most cherished in our county — its natural heritage? Are you willing to work together with others to help shape our county’s future? I am sure you will answer yes.
There are 10 years left on the clock and plenty left to do to ensure we stay “a place where nature and man live in harmony.” So, I encourage each of you to be part of our county’s Destiny by Design. To do so, visit the Citrus 2030 website at www.citrus2030.org.
Lace Blue-McLean is a local business owner, past chairperson of Citrus 20/20 Inc., and the Citrus 2030 steering committee chair for the Living in Harmony with Nature Aspiration subcommittee.