Cape environmentalist honored by Audubon
By CHUCK BALLARO
If there’s an environmental issue in Southwest Florida that needs to be addressed, there’s a good chance Carl Veaux will be there to join the fight.
Veaux, a longtime environmental champion, was named Environmental Advocate of the Year by the Audubon of Southwest Florida at the 19th Audubon of Southwest Florida Environmental breakfast on Oct. 28.
Veaux, who has been with the group for about a decade, was feted by the club’s board for his work to stop development in prime Florida panther habitat, much of which is east of I-75 such as Babcock Ranch, keeping northwest Lee County rural, and trying to ban fracking throughout Southwest Florida.
“I’m very humbled and elated to get this award from my peers,” Veaux said.
Veaux grew up on his grandmother’s farm in New Jersey, where his love of the environment began. He eventually moved out west to become a high school teacher and principal, where he planted trees and did conservation work with children, before coming to Cape Coral in 1980 when his wife’s mother got sick.
Once they decided to stay, Veaux taught high school for 15 years before retiring.
Veaux started his environmental work here with the Sierra Club before going to Audubon, where he was president for two years and is still a member of the board of directors. He is currently the publicity director.
He has also been on the board for the Responsible Growth Management Coalition and was a charter member of the Cape Coral Friends of Wildlife.
Veaux has been a tireless advocate for local wildlife and keeping Lee County rural by buying Conservation 20/20 and Amendment 1 lands.
He won awards from Audubon of Florida and the Florida Wildlife Federation on the latter for collecting 4,300 signatures for a petition to put that amendment on the ballot, which was the most collected in the entire state.
He has also talked to local legislators on the state level to send the water south into the Everglades from Lake Okeechobee to clean up the water.
“I’ve been talking to (Lizbeth) Benacquisto, (Matt) Caldwell, (Dane) Eagle and (Ray) Rodrigues. You name them, I’ve talked to them. Every time they have environmental inquiries I’m always there speaking,” Veaux said.
Veaux has advocated for several Cape Coral initiatives and won. He advocated for eagle setbacks to 11,000 feet, which the city council passed, and stopped fertilizing during the winter in the city and Lee County.
His current projects are fundraising to turn the old Cape Coral golf course into a park and preventing River Hall developers, Green Point, from building houses on prime panther and wildlife habitat, saving the manatees and burrowing owls and raising funds for the Calusa Nature Center to finish an aviary and boardwalks.
His global initiatives include writing to the president to help stop the Keystone Pipeline and Pebble Mine. He also helped to stop the drilling for oil in the Arctic Ocean and lands.
Saving wildlife worldwide, particularly in Africa, and preventing global warming are a major priority, Veaux said.