FCC News Brief - September 21, 2018

Read Groups want voters to press candidates on environment - “Trouble in Paradise’ report recommends natural resource protections. Having delivered their message to federal and state candidates last month, a coalition of environmental and other organizations appealed to Florida voters Wednesday to support their efforts to get all levels of government to assume more responsibility for protecting the state’s natural resources. The groups, 1,000 Friends of Florida, Apalachicola Riverkeeper, Defenders of Wildlife, Florida Defenders of the Environment, Florida Springs Council, Florida Springs Institute, Florida Wildlife Corridor, Florida Wildlife Federation, and League of Women Voters of Florida co-wrote ‘Trouble in Paradise,’ the position paper they provided to incumbents and challengers on the November 6 ballot for Congress, governor, the Cabinet and the state Legislature. In that report, the united front outlines six priorities: conserving land, safeguarding water supplies, promoting water conservation, protecting and restoring water quality, managing growth and addressing climate change… ‘It is by no means comprehensive,’ Vivian Young, communications director for 1,000 Friends of Florida, said of the report, which devotes just a few pages to each topic. Yet she said it provides politicians and voters with ‘the big picture.’ Its ‘recommended remedies’ are feasible and can achieve results, Marty Sullivan, natural resources director for the League of Women Voters, and other speakers agreed. Now the groups want citizens to not only be aware of the findings but to question the candidates, use social media to spread the report’s messages, submit letters to newspapers and use the Nov. 6 ballot to elect leaders who are committed to implementing positive change for the environment. ‘This is something you can talk to your neighbors about,’ said Paul Owens, president of 1,000 Friends of Florida. After the election, the groups want citizens to attend public meetings of their state legislative delegations and local governments to keep environmental protections on their agendas. ‘We can impact these issues,’ Sullivan said.  Dale White reports for the Ocala Star Banner.

Read Sea-level rise must be taken seriously - “We, a United States Representative and a scientist from our regional state university, have come together to acknowledge that sea-level rise is an urgent problem for our community, but one that we must and can address. It's not uncommon to hear people mention that they are worried about the future, whether environmental, social or economic. Partisanship and polarization seem to dominate our political landscape right now, with little interest in debate or compromise, making it difficult to come together to resolve differences of opinion. However, here in Southwest Florida, we know that our lives are intermingled with the water and the coastal environment, and many people have set aside political affiliations to come together to address serious challenges they face. We have watched as higher seas, stronger storms and more frequent floods have become part of a new normal that is costlier for the average Floridian. This new normal can mean dozens of days of flooding in our homes and streets, even on sunny days, longer commutes caused by flooded roads, and leading to reduced value of our residential properties....Inaction is already costing us billions. Hurricane Irma cost the United States $50 billion. We also know that 40 percent to 60 percent of small businesses never reopen their doors following a disaster, which has a ripple effect on our economy. Cities in Florida alone are already spending over $4 billion to harden infrastructure, improve drainage, renourish beaches and combat tidal flooding. This is the result of just 6 inches of sea-level rise over the last 30 years - we're expecting as much as another 6 inches in the next 15 years alone...How do we adapt to sea-level rise while working to mitigate the predicted additional rise if we do not change course in our use of fossil fuels? We must all collaborate to influence decisions that can make a difference. What better way to show this as a bipartisan effort than to pair an earth scientist with the Republican Congressman for Florida's 19th District as supporters, advocates and end users of the NOAA project? Now we look ahead to create solutions, in a bipartisan way, for our burgeoning climate-related problems in Southwest Florida and beyond.” Rep. Francis Rooney and Dr. Michael Savarese write for the Sanibel-Captiva Islander.

Read Overnight evolution: Florida’s snail kites save themselves by stepping up their game - “It’s not hard for the snail kite to plan its daily menu. The endangered raptor eats only one food: apple snails, and a lot of them--10,000 a year per bird. Catching the freshwater snails is a laborsome venture that involves waiting until the snail comes to the surface to breathe and--at the exact right moment--swooping down to grab it. Employing its perfectly adapted curved beak, the kite then extracts its escargot--and repeats the process 27 more times, every day. This specialist bird has been hit hard by habitat declines and other changes in the Florida wetlands it calls home. From 2000 to 2007, scientists noticed a steep decline in the number of snail kites, due in part to two major droughts that left their wetlands parched. The decline was also affected by the rarity of the apple snail, which lives in a very particular habitat and has a relatively short lifespan. Without its snails, the snail kites chances of survival were looking poor--until an unlikely invader found its way to Florida. It turns out that there are more varieties of apple snail than one. The non-native South American apple snail likely made its way to the Sunshine State via the pet trade, possibly when a rash aquarium owner released the species into the wild...You may sense where this story is going. A recent study in Nature Ecology & Evolution found that the snail kite has rapidly evolved so as to be able to forage on this new, larger prey. The bills of the raptor, says Robert Fletcher, co-author of the study and associate professor in the department of wildlife ecology and conservation at the University of Florida, have increased in size since the invasion of the South American snail…The result: Numbers of large-bill snail kites have tripled in the past decade...The South American apple snails are exceptions to Florida’s mostly unhappy experience with invasive species. For example, the state is now home to thriving populations of pythons and boa constrictors; a 95-pound boa was recently captured on No Name Key in the Florida Keys. Invasive snakes are wiping out native foxes and rabbits as well as raccoons, deer, opossums, and bobcats. And lionfish, found in the waters surrounding Florida, have decimated the area’s marine species. Nor is the snail kite’s future secure. ‘Habitat destruction is a continuing threat, as much of the snail kite’s home has been lost to farming and development,’ says Frank Jackalone, Florida chapter director for the Sierra Club. Water pollution caused by pesticide run-off has also had devastating repercussions for Florida, causing poisonous algae to blanket important water sources. And while the South American snails are valuable as a food source for the snail kite, they’re also muscling out the Florida apple snails, which are becoming increasingly rare.” Sara Novak writes for SIERRA.

Read Red tide reaches the Panhandle - “The plague of red tide has come to North Florida. Red tide, which has devastated marine life along the southwest Gulf Coast, was discovered in Florida’s Panhandle last week. The heaviest concentrations have been reported in Bay County while low concentrations, determined by the number of algae cells found in a liter of water, have been found in Walton, Santa Rosa and Okaloosa counties. Most of the red tide being reported near shore is found in St. Andrews Pass while medium levels of the red tide bloom are being reported in St. Andrews Bay, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.  Closer to home, trace amounts of red tide have been discovered in Franklin, Gulf and Pasco county waters. While it is uncertain where red tide will head next, the FWC is predicting an eastward shift of the Northwest Florida red tide. ‘The duration of a bloom in nearshore Florida waters depends on physical and biological conditions that influence its growth and persistence, including sunlight, nutrients and salinity, as well as the speed and direction of wind and water currents,’ said FWC spokeswoman Bekah Nelson in an email. ‘Red tides can last as little as a few weeks or longer than a year. They can even subside and then reoccur.’  Medium concentrations of the algae bloom are likely to cause fish kills and minor respiratory issues for humans. The red tide that has gripped the southwest Gulf Coast since November has spread along 130 miles of coastline from northern Pinellas County south to Lee County.” Karl Etters reports for the Tallahassee Democrat.

Read Alico water farm gets South Florida Water Management District permit for $124 million project - “The South Florida Water Management District Wednesday approved a permit for a controversial 35,192-acre water farm that will cost taxpayers $124 million over 11 years. The water farm on Alico Inc. land in Hendry County is designed to prevent water from the Caloosahatchee River from polluting the estuary near Fort Myers, much like the Caulkins water farm does for the St. Lucie River in Martin County. A TCPalm investigation in December 2015 found the Alico project would cost much more per gallon of water than Caulkins. The Caulkins project costs taxpayers $233 for every 1 million gallons of contracted water storage; Alico's 2014 contract would cost $356 for the same amount of water. Storing 1 million gallons on publicly owned land costs less than $25, according to an audit of the district's Dispersed Water Management Program… In TCPalm's investigation, Rae Ann Wessel, director of natural resources policy for the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation in Sanibel, noted housing developments are required to build detention ponds for stormwater runoff. ‘If the concept that the polluter pays applies to urban development, shouldn't it apply to agriculture?’ Wessel told TCPalm. ‘Instead of farmers paying to keep their polluted water out of rivers and canals, they want the state to pay them to do it.’ Alico is ‘committed to combating Florida's water crisis and restoring the health of critical waterways,’ according to a statement by Remy W. Trafelet, president and CEO of Alico. ‘Once finalized, our project will provide much needed relief for the Caloosahatchee River and the communities it touches.’ With the Alico water farm in place, water district Executive Director Ernie Marks said, ‘west coast communities will receive additional relief from local basin runoff and regulatory releases from Lake Okeechobee.’ Marks asked Alico officials to expedite construction ‘so that we can realize this much-needed relief as soon as possible.’ A construction starting date hasn't been set, Eva Velez, the district's director of Everglades policy, said Wednesday…” Tyler Treadway reports for the Treasure Coast Newspapers.


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Job Openings

Executive Director- Florida Wildlife Corridor

Organizing Representative for Sierra Club Florida’s Clean Energy for All Campaign

Upcoming Environmental Events

September 19, 12:00 noon – 1:30 p.m. – FREE Trouble in Paradise Webinar:  This project was spearheaded by the late Nathaniel Pryor Reed to educate candidates for office and citizens on key environmental issues facing our state and strategies to address them.  Attend this free webinar to learn more and gain insights on how to advocate for change.  Trouble in Paradise was produced by 1000 Friends of Florida, Apalachicola Riverkeeper, Defenders of Wildlife, Florida Defenders of the Environment, Florida Springs Council, Florida Springs Institute, Florida Wildlife Corridor, Florida Wildlife Federation and League of Women Voters of Florida. The webinar has been approved for professional certification credits for planners, Florida attorneys, and certified environmental health professionals.  The full report and registration information are available at http://www.1000friendsofflorida.org/webinar/

September 24, 7:00-9:00 pm - Water Voices Program: Clear Choices for Clean Water (High Springs): The Ichetucknee Alliance resumes its popular Water Voices speaker series this fall with a program designed to inspire people to take action to solve the problems that plague the Ichetucknee River and its associated springs. This free event will feature a talk by Dr. Robert L. Knight, Executive Director of the Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute (FSI), and the premiere of three new videos, Ichetucknee:  Yesterday – Today – Tomorrow, edited by award-winning documentary filmmaker Eric Flagg. Knight will also describe FSI’s newest project, a Blue Water Audit, as well as his idea for an Aquifer Protection Fee. See this press release for more information. High Springs New Century Woman’s Club, 23674 U.S. Highway 27, High Springs, FL 32643.

September 25, 6:00 PM - Free showing of the Sierra Club film 'Reinventing Power' (Destin) - Sierra Club Emerald Coast, League of Women Voters of Okaloosa & Walton County, and Earth Ethics, Inc. present Reinventing Power: America’s Renewal Energy Boom. The movie takes us across the country to hear directly from the people making our clean energy future achievable. These individuals are working to rebuild what’s broken, rethink what’s possible, and revitalize communities. These stories are proof that America does not need to choose between keeping our lights on and protecting our communities. Critically, Reinventing Power underscores the notion that we don’t have to sacrifice jobs for a clean environment. Over the film’s 50 minutes, you’ll meet people in eight states whose lives were changed by the renewable energy industry while exploring various aspects of the clean energy industry from innovation to installation. Register with EventBrite here

September 26, 6:00-8:00 pm – Environmental Center Night: Owls of North Florida (High Springs):  Join the Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute and Sunrise Wildlife Rehabilitation for a fun evening learning about “Owls of North Florida” at the North Florida Springs Environmental Center. Sunrise Wildlife Rehabilitation (SWR) will introduce three owl species individually enlightening visitors with a bit of natural history on each owl. Then, SWR wildlife ambassadors and their handlers will spread out-to stations in the various area of North Florida Springs Environmental Center garden to display each owl and allow up close/safe viewing. Learn more here: https://floridaspringsinstitute.org/event/owlsofnf/. Address North Florida Springs Environmental Center, 99 NW 1st Avenue, High Springs, FL 32643.

October 2, 6:30-8:30 pm - Water Voices Program: Clear Choices for Clean Water (Lake City): The Ichetucknee Alliance resumes its popular Water Voices speaker series this fall with a program designed to inspire people to take action to solve the problems that plague the Ichetucknee River and its associated springs. This free event will feature a talk by Dr. Robert L. Knight, Executive Director of the Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute (FSI), and the premiere of three new videos, Ichetucknee:  Yesterday – Today – Tomorrow, edited by award-winning documentary filmmaker Eric Flagg. Knight will also describe FSI’s newest project, a Blue Water Audit, as well as his idea for an Aquifer Protection Fee. See this press release for more information.  Columbia County Public Library – Main, 308 NW Columbia Ave., Lake City, FL  32055

October 2, 12:00 pm - Free showing of the Sierra Club film 'Reinventing Power' (Pensacola) - Sierra Club Emerald Coast, League of Women Voters of the Pensacola Bay Area, and Earth Ethics, Inc. present Reinventing Power: America’s Renewal Energy Boom. The movie takes us across the country to hear directly from the people making our clean energy future achievable. These individuals are working to rebuild what’s broken, rethink what’s possible, and revitalize communities. These stories are proof that America does not need to choose between keeping our lights on and protecting our communities. Critically, Reinventing Power underscores the notion that we don’t have to sacrifice jobs for a clean environment. Over the film’s 50 minutes, you’ll meet people in eight states whose lives were changed by the renewable energy industry while exploring various aspects of the clean energy industry from innovation to installation. Register with EventBrite here

October 2, 12:00-1:00 pm – Springs Academy Tuesday: Springs Overview (High Springs):  Join the Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute for an hour-long presentation with Florida Springs Institute Executive Director, Dr. Robert Knight. During this class, Dr. Knight will be presenting an in-depth overview of springs and how they support our land and our daily lives! After each class, students get a chance to sit down for lunch with Dr. Knight and Florida Springs Institute staff to ask questions and find out more about how they can get involved in protecting these important natural resources. Registration for each class is not required; however, there is a $5 suggested donation for each class. Address: North Florida Springs Environmental Center, 99 NW 1st Avenue, High Springs, FL 32643.

October 5, 9:00 a.m.-4:45 p.m. - Palm Beach County 2070 Workshop:   What does the future hold for Palm Beach County?  Can the county accommodate the more than 750,000 new residents anticipated by 2070 and still maintain its quality of life and natural lands?  Join 1000 Friends of Florida in exploring how Palm Beach County should grow with experts on conservation, planning, urban development, economic development and citizen engagement.  What can we do today to plan for a better tomorrow in Palm Beach County?   This day-long workshop is being hosted by 1000 Friends of Florida at the Vista Center in West Palm Beach.  The cost is $20 per attendee and professional certification credits have been approved for planners (7 AICP CM #221015), Certified Foodplain Managers, and Florida Environmental Health Professionals and are being sought for Florida attorneys and others.  Find out more and register at www.1000friendsofflorida.org/pbco2070.

October 12, 9 a.m. – 4:15 p.m. – Martin County 2070 Workshop:  Martin County is expected to grow by about 30% by 2070. How can the County accommodate new residents and still maintain its quality of life and natural areas?  A team of conservationists, planners, developers and others will explore how to lay the foundation now for a more sustainable future for Martin County.  This day-long workshop is being hosted by 1000 Friends of Florida and The Guardians of Martin County and is being held in Stuart.  Registration is $20 per attendee and includes lunch.  Professional certification credits have been approved for planners (5.75 AICP CM) and are being sought for Florida attorneys and others.   We hope you’ll join us!  Find out more and register at /www.1000friendsofflorida.org/martin-county-2070/

October 13, 9:00am-3:00pm - Fall Wildflower Festival & Native Plant Sale (Parrish): The Serenoa Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society and the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program present the Fall Wildflower Festival and Native Plant Sale at Sweetbay Nursery, 10824 Erie Road, Parrish. Get all the latest information from conservation groups such as Sarasota Bay Estuary Program, Audubon Society, Tampa Bay Watch, and more. Ray’s Vegan Soul food available for purchase. For more information, call 941-776-0501.

October 20-21 – Into the Springs Music Festival (Alachua):  Join the Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute for its second annual Into the Springs Music Festival at Deep Spring Farm. Enjoy a weekend full of live music, camping, organic farming workshops, yoga, and community in support of Florida springs! To learn more and purchase tickets, visit https://floridaspringsinstitute.org/event/intothesprings/. Funding for this event was provided in part by Visit Gainesville/Alachua County. Address: Deep Springs Farm,  16419 W County Rd 1491, Alachua, FL 32615.

October 26, 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. - Water Symposium: The State of our Water (DeLand): The Volusia Water Alliance hosts a series of short presentations on the water problems we face and possible solutions by leaders and experts, focused on Volusia County and applicable statewide. This free event features keynote speaker Dr. Jason Evans, Faculty Director of the Institute for Water & Environmental Resilience, Associate Professor of Environmental Science and Studies at Stetson University, and Co-Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Environmental Management. His topic is "Reclaiming the Future: Science, Engagement, and Hope in Our State of Watery Peril.” Seating is limited; please register online at VolusiaWater.org. Optional catered lunch from DeLand Natural Market (wrap, chips, water, and a brownie) is available for $12 with registration. Visit VolusiaWater.org for more information. Sponsorships are available. Wayne G. Sanborn Activity Center - 815 S. Alabama Ave., DeLand, FL 32724

November 1, 12:00 noon to 1:30 p.m. -- FREE Sustainable Landscaping Principles and Practices Webinar:  This free webinar will explore best practices, trends and market opportunities for sustainable landscaping in the State of Florida. Sustainable Landscaping is a set of landscaping principles and practices which minimize environmental degradation and make more efficient use of energy, water and other natural resources. This course will review the latest research and present current best practices for designing, building and maintaining sustainable landscapes. Project case studies will be used to discuss a framework for how to promote sustainable landscaping on large scale commercial projects working with multiple stakeholders through conceptual planning through implementation and long-term maintenance. The instructors are Pierce Jones, Ph.D., the University of Florida Extension Program Leader for Energy Programs, and Timothee Sallin, president of Cherrylake, an integrated landscape company.  This event has been approved for credits for planners, Certified Floodplain Manger and Florida Environmental Health Professionals and are being sought for Florida attorneys and others.  Register at www.1000friendsofflorida.org/webinar.

November 1-4 - The Florida Springs Restoration Summit (Ocala) - Join the Florida Springs Council in Ocala to learn from state leaders and experts on how we can make meaningful springs restoration a reality. The Florida Springs Restoration Summit brings together scientists, academics, advocates, reporters, policy makers, and other citizens to discuss the status of springs health and steps needed for meaningful springs restoration and long-term protection. The cost to attend the Springs Summit is kept low to encourage participation by members of the public and nonprofit organizations. To learn more about the 2018 Springs Restoration Summit and register, see the Summit website.

Do you know of an upcoming environmental event or meeting you would like to include in the FCC News Brief? Send us a quick e-mail and we will include it for you.

Petitions

Stop the spraying of glyphosate herbicide in Florida waters

Stop Development on Fish Island along the Matanzas River

Thinking of going electric? Nextcar Pledge

Rezoning 5-acres in Palm Harbor

Another Gulf is Possible

Save the Serenova Tract in Pasco – Say NO to the Ridge Road Extension

Florida Solar Bill of Rights

Protect Florida’s Gulf Coast from Offshore Drilling

Protect Weeki Wachee Springs; Stop the 7 Diamonds Mine in Pasco County

Tell Congress to Stop Sabal Trail

Stop New Phosphate Strip Mining in Florida

We hope you enjoy this service and find it valuable. Our goal is to provide you with the latest and most relevant environmental news for Floridians. Our hope is that you will use this information to more effectively and frequently contact your elected representatives, and add your voice to the growing chorus of Floridians concerned about the condition of our environment and the recent direction of environmental policies.

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About the FCC: The Florida Conservation Coalition (FCC) is composed of over 80 conservation-minded organizations and over two thousand individuals devoted to protecting and conserving Florida’s land, fish and wildlife, and water resources.  

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