No matter your political affiliation, one thing that binds outdoors enthusiasts together is our love for nature and our desire to conserve the nation’s rich resources as best as humanly possible. 

Recent toxic algae blooms that have affected so much wildlife and fishing opportunities recently in the state of Florida demonstrate just how sensitive ecosystems can be to external forces. 

Florida Democrats took the opportunity to blame Republican Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida GOP establishment that have loosened environmental regulations over the years. 

“[Florida Gov. Rick Scott] and his toxic crew allowed polluted water in Okeechobee, crating algae mess,” they wrote on Twitter.

In response to the crisis, Gov. Scott has proposed additional funding to help clean up the mess. But for many, it’s too little too late.

For the most part, scientists agree as to the causes of the algae infestation that has left a thick sludge of green slime through waterways leading out of Lake Okeechobee, the largest freshwater lake in Florida and second largest in the country. 

In recent decades the lake has been loaded with contaminants largely as a result of farming and construction. Fertilizers from farms and urban runoff have led to high levels of nitrogen and phosphorous. That combined with higher temperatures create a breeding ground for algae blooms some have described as “vile” smelling and “guacamole-thick.”

When the Army Corps of Engineers dumped large amounts of Lake Okeechobee water into rivers and canals to prevent flooding a few weeks ago this only exacerbated the problem, forcing the bloom into marinas and eventually into the ocean.

Fisherman have seen the effects of the bloom firsthand as species have fled affected areas and many have died, choked out by the lack of oxygen the algae consumes.