Carlton Ward Jr. writes for The Tampa Bay Times – “[T]he path panthers will follow to expand into their historic territory…begins from South Florida public lands like Everglades National Park, Big Cypress National Preserve and Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge, all at risk of being cut off from the rest of the state and needing lifelines north to the Caloosahatchee and beyond, where the fabric of the (Florida Wildlife) [C]orridor consists largely of private ranches...[The future of the ranches] aren’t secure, yet without them the corridor would not exist. During the expedition, we hiked across or camped on nearly 30 ranches whose owners were interested in conservation easements as alternatives to development…The Priddys have lost cattle to panthers and their experiences have helped shape federal programs that have partially compensated them for their losses and will reduce the burden for other ranchers who continue supporting the panther’s recovery…[T]he Florida Wildlife Corridor is still connected. But that could change quickly as ranchers…are pressured by estate taxes and growing families to sell their land, paving the way for roads and development to push further inland…[R]anchers and panthers…[face] the same common threat – the rapid sprawling development that is consuming lands on which they both depend…The biggest barrier to recovery for the panther is insufficient funding for land protection, and the biggest impediment to funding has been Tallahassee, where lawmakers continue to resist the will of the people to protect more land…RFLPP (Rural and Family Lands Protection Program) has $30 million in this year’s budget…But we need to invest 10 times that much in easements annually to balance the 175,000 acres per year, or 20 acres per hour, we lose to development.” Read The path of the panther
Alli Knothe and Jeff Harrington report for The Tampa Bay Times – “It has been a long time since farmers and ranchers could turn their spreads of land into big moneymakers…[A]griculture has now shriveled to the point that it’s no longer a major part of the state’s economy…[A]s family farms look to pass on to the next generation, the high cost of business has convinced more farmers and ranchers to simply give up and sell to developers, who have gobbled up 1 million acres of farmland in the last 10 years alone…Once farms disappear to make way for houses, shopping centers and schools, ‘it’s gone forever,’ said UF’s Hodges…Some state environmental experts and economists think a burgeoning water shortage could lead to more stringent water restrictions, or fees, within 10 years.” Read Dying on the vine? Florida’s shriveling agriculture industry can’t shale the fall of citrus, loss of land
Beth Kassab writes for the Orlando Sentinel – “The more I think about our future as a region, the more the parent in me wants to put a safety lock on our growth-management plans and strap helmets on elected officials as they prepare for inevitable run-ins with developers. Growing a region has some striking similarities to raising a child. You accept that change…will come. But you do what you can to nurture the good stuff that you don’t want to lose…I wonder if one day we will look around…and shake our heads at the destruction we didn’t stop…Failing to plan for the right mix of growth and preservation would be the worst form of neglect.” Read Florida’s conservation of the state’s natural beauty will be our biggest challenge of 2030
Andy Reid reports for the Sun Sentinel – “Two sugar cane farms repeatedly failing to meet Everglades pollution-cleanup coals remain in business thanks to an accommodating landlord- the state of Florida…While sugar cane growers face pollution cleanup requirements, they argue that much of the pollution problem threatening the Everglades comes from phosphorus that flows into Lake Okeechobee from Central Florida- before that water even makes it to South Florida’s sugar cane fields…Using state land to grow sugar cane is ‘a missed opportunity’ at a time when Florida needs more places to store and clean up water for the Everglades, said Cara Capp, Everglades Coalition co-chair.” Read Sugar-cane growing on state land misses pollution-cleanup goal, records show
Justin Worland reports for Time – “Conditions linked to everyday chemicals – used in cosmetics, plastics and common household items like sofas- lead to $340 billion in treatment and lost productivity costs annually in the U.S., according to a new study…Europe- where regulations require manufacturers to prove household chemicals are safe before they hit shelves- loses a significantly smaller share of its GDP as a result of endocrine disrupting diseases than the U.S…These chemicals have been linked to obesity, intellectual disabilities, endometriosis, autism and heart disease.” Read Health Problems from Common Chemicals Cost $340 Billion Per Year: Study
Scott Tong and Tom Scheck report for Marketplace – “Top officials of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency last year made critical changes at the eleventh hour to a highly anticipated, five-year scientific study of hydraulic fracturing’s effect on the nation’s drinking water. The changes, later criticized by scientists for lacking evidence, played down the risk of pollution that can result from…fracking…The study ran into a number of difficulties…The EPA, for example, tried to work with oil and gas companies to conduct testing on sites before, during and after a fractured well is drilled…Despite pledges of cooperation from the industry, the EPA could never reach agreement with any company to conduct the tests.” Read EPA’s late changes to fracking study downplay risk of drinking water pollution
WTXL reports – “Three protests were held over the weekend calling on leaders and residents to take action and stop the completion of the (Sabal Trail) pipeline…The Live Oak protest is where water advocates say authorities arrested a veteran…” Read Sabal Trail Pipeline Protest Leads to an Arrest
Dave Burke reports for the Daily Mail – “Catholic priests are now expected to learn about climate change…It is part of a worldwide drive by the faith to increase environmental awareness. New guidelines issued to priests state that members of the clergy should be ‘promoters’ of ‘appropriate care for everything connected to the protection of creation.’ The Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences has ruled that climate change is real and caused by human activity. Members of the church have been urged to spread the message in a non-political manner… ‘…[T]he Church advocates awareness, conservation, and management of our planet’s resources for the good of all, and not just for the benefit of a mere few.’” Read Catholic priests will have to preach about climate change as part of a drive by the church to cut global warming
From Our Readers
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Upcoming Environmental Events
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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