The following letter was written to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation commissioners on Aug. 14 by Tweed Roosevelt, great-grandson of President Theodore Roosevelt; chairman of Roosevelt China Investments; and president of the board of trustees of the Theodore Roosevelt Association. He is very familiar with Boca Grande fishing and the island and gave his approval for the Beacon to run this letter.
I understand that you are considering various alternatives for regulating the Boca Grande Jig. I know a little about the controversy but not in depth. Others who are far more knowledgeable will address the specific issues relating to this. My purpose is to provide some context for making the decision as to what is best for all parties concerned based on my great-grandfather Theodore Roosevelt's leadership applicable to situations such as this.
TR's approach is relatively simple, straightforward and sensible. He saw that there are two fundamental approaches that are not mutually exclusive but both have their place – preservation and conservation.
An easy way to understand the difference is to compare the National Park Service to the U.S. Forest Service. Parks are meant to be preserved in a state altered as little as possible by man. Forests are meant to be conserved so they may be a continuing source of natural resources from generation to generation. A relatively small portion of the land should be preserved and by far the greater amount conserved.
In situations requiring conservation, the issue is always one of balance. How much should be consumed today and how much saved for tomorrow? One can always argue where the line should be drawn, and these are legitimate arguments, but the extreme and illegitimate positions are usually clear and inappropriate. TR understood this but usually felt we should err on the side of protecting future generations, as the immediate benefits are so attractive that they can cloud our vision.
The Boca Grande Jig issue is clearly one that falls into the conservation side. The job of the commissioners is to decide whether or not the Jig is sufficiently destructive to require its banning. Others will make the various arguments. I urge you to remember TR's wise approach to these kinds of problems and rule accordingly. I think it is very clear where he would stand on this issue, that is saving the species for future generations so they can enjoy the fishery, and I hope you will live up to his standard.
Best,Tweed RooseveltBoston, Mass.
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