The Gainesville Sun Editorial Board writes – “The final death knell for the dam should have been an agreement that came after Congress officially deauthorized the barge canal in 1990. But the dam has remained on federal land in the Ocala National Forest…As former Florida Gov. Buddy MacKay, who wrote the legislation killing the dam project when he was a congressman, said, ‘It’s an absolute outrage that everything that has been done and we still have this dam.’…Newly elected state Sen. Keith Perry…is a proponent for keeping the dam. His district now includes Putnam County, where supporters of the reservoir cite the economic benefits of its use for bass fishing. Such a stand fails to take into account the impact of the river’s restoration on ecotourism and the environment. Breaching the dam would be costly, but so is the more than $1 million annual expense of maintaining it…Hopefully [those supporting the dam’s removal] will be able to use the legal system to finally achieve what should have been done decades ago.” Read Tough tactics needed to finally kill dam
Monica Camacho writes for FL Keys News – “Imagine you have a swimming pool with 100 water pipes discharging into it. Sixty-seven of the pipes constantly release rotten seaweed and fish carcasses into your pool. You hire someone to fix the problem, and he only repairs two of the pipes…This is the case in the Florida Keys, where two-thirds of the canals have “impaired” water quality…The Florida Keys’ Canal Restoration Program should be considered a higher priority for state and federal government agencies that control county funding for projects…Some common methods to improve canal water quality include weed gates, culvert connections, removal of accumulated organics, backfilling deep canals and pumping. Residents believe that some of the methods are too invasive and will cause greater harm to the environment, such as backfilling because it can cover benthic organisms. However, these methods will eventually improve conditions…Also, some residents are against having surveys and remediation projects done on their property…We need the compliance and patience of Florida Keys’ residents to engender a more productive and biodiverse aquatic community.” Read Keys’ economy depends on proper canal restoration
Ledyard King reports for USA Today – “Legislation authorizing almost $2 billion for the Everglades is headed to President Barack Obama’s desk for his signature after the Senate passed a major water infrastructure bill…The…Act…authorizes: - $1.95 billion for the Central Everglades Planning Project; - $113 million to cover the cost of completing a 55,000-acre Picayune Strand restoration project in Collier County…[T]he water bill…would eliminate a 2014 directive that warns the governors of Florida, Georgia and Alabama to negotiate an out-of-court settlement over the allocation of water in two interstate river basins or risk stronger intervention by congress. Without the directive, Alabama and Florida officials say, Georgia might have less of an incentive to reach a political compromise…Of the $4.1 billion in emergency funding included in the bill… - $1.8 billion would go to…low-income communities affected by the storm; - $1 billion would go to…repair highways…damaged by the storm; - $1 billion would go to the Army Corps of Engineers for flood prevention and beach restoration.” Read U.S. Senate Oks $2 billion for Everglades flow, $74 million to fix Kennedy Space Center
The Associated Press reports – “A total of 40 Florida panthers have been found dead in 2016, with 32 road fatalities.” Read Panther found dead in southwest Florida
The Naples Herald reports – “From 2011 to 2016, annual panther roadkills have increased by nearly 250 percent from 9 panthers to over 30…The Conservancy (of Southwest Florida) said land for panthers and other wildlife…has decreased as permits for construction grow, rapidly becoming the most significant barrier to the Florida panther’s survival. ‘In addition to providing safe passage with landscape corridors and underpasses, we also need to preserve the core necessary habitats for panthers to establish their home ranges,’ said Conservancy…Senior Environmental Policy Specialist Amber Crooks… ‘Young panthers are disproportionally killed as they struggle to find their own resources and establish their own territory.’” Read Record Number of Panthers Hit on Florida Roadways in 2016
The Sun Sentinel Editorial Board writes – “Fracking creates hazardous wastewater – a lot of it, at surface level…Given our state’s sponge-like bedrock, improper handling of fracking’s byproducts threatens our water supply. – Energy companies want to keep secret what chemicals they use in fracking…And it’s hard to have confidence in state oversight since Gov. Rick Scott and state lawmakers gutted the Department of Environmental Protection…So it is welcome news that freshman Sens. Gary Farmer…and Dana Young…plan to push legislation this year to ban fracking in Florida. Young, who served as the Republican majority leader in the Florida House last year, has considerable sway. Farmer is a strong new voice from South Florida. Farmer told us…that he had just filed his first two bills. The first would ban fracking through state law. The second would place a constitutional amendment that bans fracking on the ballot for voters to approve…Young…also wants the Legislature to fund a $1 million study that would offer scientific grounding for a Florida ban…Recent research conducted by several universities…suggests the chemicals used in fracking increase the risk of prostate cancer, birth defects, miscarriages and reduced male fertility.” Read Welcome news on proposed fracking ban
Tim Murphy writes for Mother Jones – “Donald Trump has chosen Washington Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, chair of the House Republican Conference, to be his secretary of interior…[I]f her record in Congress is any indication, don’t expect McMorris Rogers to make climate science or conservation a priority…In 2010, she earned plaudits from the Koch brothers-backed Americans for Prosperity for opposing a cap-and-trade carbon-pricing system aimed at reducing emissions. In 2011 she voted three times against a resolution acknowledging that ‘climate change is happening and human beings are a major reason for it.’ More recently, she co-sponsored the House bill to prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency…from regulating carbon emissions…McMorris Rodgers has explicitly voted against letting the interior secretary consider climate change when setting policy…McMorris Rogers, who has a 4 percent lifetime rating from the League of Conservation Voters, has taken concrete steps to curb the power of the department she’s now set to run. She’s repeatedly backed legislation that would limit the president’s authority to protect public lands under the Antiquities Act…” Read Donald Trump’s Interior Secretary Pick Doesn’t Want to Combat Climate Change
Michael Casey and Patrick Whittle report for the Associated Press – “[I]nsects [are] draining the life out of forests from New England to the West Coast. Aided by global trade, a warming climate and drought-weakened trees, the invaders have become one of the greatest threats to biodiversity in the United States. Scientists say they already are driving some tree species toward extinction and are causing billions of dollars a year in damage…This scourge is projected to put 63 percent of the country’s forest at risk through 2027…Such destruction would do away with a critical sponge to capture greenhouse gas emissions, shelter for birds and insects and food sources for bears and other wild animals. Dead forests also can increase the danger of catastrophic wildfires…Florida [houses] trees especially susceptible to pests.” Read Spread by global trade, bugs butcher forests
From Our Readers
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Upcoming Environmental Events
December 11, 12:00 pm – Attend the Green Shopping Holiday Extravaganza! This Tallahassee Midtown crawl will feature two stops selling vintage collectibles, handmade upcycled crafts, recycled art, and eco-friendly gifts. Live music, an alternative gift wrapping workshop, and an organic wine tasting will also be part of the festivities! Proceeds from this event will benefit youth programming for ReThink Energy Florida and The Sharing Tree. For more information, click here.
December 14, 12:45 pm – Come learn about irrigation improvements for homeowners in The Villages. The meeting will take place in the Belvedere Library. For more information and to RSVP, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
December 15, 12:00 pm – Participate in 1000 Friends of Florida’s FREE webinar: Lake Pickett North: A Citizen Advocacy Success Story. The Orange County Board of County Commissioners’ vote on November 15 to deny a massive proposed development outside of the Urban Services Area provided a major victory both for the environment and for the citizen advocates who led the charge. For more information and to register, click here.
January 13 – Attend the 26th Annual Southwest Florida Water Resources Conference in Fort Myers. For more information and to register, click here.
January 28, 9:30 AM - Attend the 1st Nature's Spirit Conference hosted by the Pagan Environmental Alliance and the First Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Palm Beaches to discuss how science, belief in nature, and activism can tap into greater community involvement. For more information, click here.
January 29, 10:00 AM – Attend Southwest Florida Veg Fest in Fort Myers. For more information, click here.
February 15, 12:00 pm – Participate in 1000 Friends of Florida’s FREE webinar: Implementing Water 2070: Water Conservation Planning for Florida Communities. Dr. Pierce Jones, Director of the University of Florida’s Program for Resource Efficient Communities, will discuss water conservation planning for Florida’s communities based on a series of studies he’s conducted on behalf of the Toho Water Authority, Envision Alachua (Plum Creek), and other local governments, developers, and water authorities. For more information and to register, click here.
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