Frank Torres reports for Orlando Politics – “District 5 Commissioner Emily Bonilla submitted [a] proposal which is being pushed forward by the League of Women Voters [which] calls on the state legislature to allocate $300 million dollars to a trust for land acquisition with the intent of preserving water and wildlife resources and maintaining sensitive lands with rapid growth coming to the area…The resolution will now be reviewed by the County before coming back before a vote by the commission.” Read Orange Commission to consider resolution calling on proper allocation of Amendment 1 funds
Paul Still writes for The Gainesville Sun – “The draft Water Supply Plan for North Florida turns out to be yet another case where the quality of the plan is sacrificed so a bureaucratic box can be checked. The plan has major flaws and does not meet the requirements for a water supply plan established in Florida statues. It fails to identify sufficient projects to address the needs identified in the plan and fails to cover at least a 20-year planning period…The most cost-effective way to protect our aquifer resources is to restore wetlands and prevent the continuing destruction of existing wetlands. A planning tool that could be used would be to require all development to replace 110 percent of any aquifer recharge lost because of the development. Wetlands restoration can also reduce nutrients entering lakes, river, and aquifers…Time is critical…and funding projects that do not address the fundamental problems waste resources…Once large landholdings are subdivided, the chances of restoring large tracts of wetlands can be lost…Spending an extra six months to correct the flaws in the (North Florida Water Supply) plan may be the only way we can protect our region’s water resources.” Read Water supply plan has major flaws
Joshua Rhett Miller reports for The New York Post – “As the US Fish and Wildlife Service considers removing manatees from [the] endangered species list, boaters in Florida have killed a record number of the animals this year…The 98 manatees killed by watercraft in Florida thus far in 2016 eclipses the previous record set in 2009…Manatees…have…grown to more than 6,000 animals today, despite ongoing detrimental impacts like habitat loss, boat strikes and red tide. As of Dec. 2, the total number of manatee deaths from various causes was 472, or 16 percent higher than 405 deaths last year…But the number of manatees killed by boats this year is more than 8 times higher than the limit of 12 per year that a federal study…would mark the most human-caused death that the animals could tolerate without risking extinction…Overall, the largest number of manatees deaths…were reported in 2013…That’s when a rash of cold temperatures, a wave of red tide poisonings and a mysterious ailment…that’s still under investigation killed 830 manatees…[A] decision by US Fish and Wildlife Service on the designation of manatees is expected early next year…” Read The manatee crisis isn’t over yet
Jim Turner reports for The News Service of Florida – “Most of the $825,000 in “BearWise” program money, given out to 12 counties across the state, will go to lower the cost of bear-resistant trash cans for residents…Seminole Lake, Orange and Santa Rosa counties each will get $150,000…Most of the money requires local governments to…approve ordinances regarding the maintenance of residential and business trash…[T]he Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said the agency will seek additional money from the Legislature in 2017 to maintain the conflict-reduction program.” Read A dozen counties get bear trash can funding
Lacey McCormick reports for the National Wildlife Federation – “Florida and national conservation groups announced that 67,000 Americans had signed petitions asking Governor Scott to honor the state-federal partnership that protects the last piece of the historic Everglades ecosystem in Palm Beach County as a National Wildlife Refuge…The groups who worked on the petition drive agree that continuing the partnership…is the best way to leverage the resources needed to combat the aggressive invasive species found in the refuge. If the state terminates the agreement, it will lose the $2 million annually that the Fish and Wildlife Service has been spending to fight these invasive species.” Read 67,000 Americans Want to Keep Loxahatchee Refuge
Randy Schultz writes for the Sun Sentinel – “The South Florida Water Management District…issued a “statement of principles’ on behalf of the Loxahathchee National Wildlife Refuge…and defended its intention to sell land in Palm Beach County’s Agricultural Reserve Area. Given the source, however, such reassurances aren’t reassuring…The district…has suggested that it might sue to force a sale (in the Agricultural Reserve), which could mean no conservation easement…Why the strong-arm? Gov. Rick Scott appoints district board members, and his office has ordered them to cut taxes…[T]he district has to balance its books using reserves…So the district is short on cash…We must hope that the next governor gives the district the money it needs and a new attitude.” Read Water district gets tough on all the wrong people
Oliver Milman reports for The Guardian – “The heads of Donald Trump’s transition teams for Nasa, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of the Interior and the Department of Energy, as well as his nominees to lead the EPA and the Department of the Interior, all question the science of human-caused climate change…According to his latest financial disclosure records, Trump held investments in the fossil fuel companies Shell, Halliburton, Total and Chevron. His largest energy investment was in BHP Billiton…Trump also had interests in Energy Transfer Partners and Phillips 66, which are behind the controversial Dakota Access pipeline that Trump wants to see completed. Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, said… ‘These are people that had slipped out of the conversation, we haven’t been even debating them in years because they were so out of step…Now they’ve leapfrogged into the White House…Will we now have to debate whether gravity exists too?’” Read Trump’s transition: sceptics guide every agency dealing with climate change
Nathan Bomey reports for USA Today – “Billionaire philanthropist and technologist Bill Gates is set to announce…the formation of a new fund with more than $1 billion to invest in technologies aimed at counteracting climate change.” Read Bill Gates forms $1B climate-change tech fund
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 3, 12:00 pm – Join the Florida Springs Institute for Springs Academy Tuesdays at the North Florida Springs Environmental Center (99 NW 1st Avenue) in High Springs. January’s lecture is on Springs Biology. For more information, 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 7, 12:00 pm – Join the Florida Springs Institute for Springs Academy Tuesdays at the North Florida Springs Environmental Center (99 NW 1st Avenue) in High Springs. February’s lecture is on Springs Stresses: Groundwater Pumping, Fertilizers, Wastewater Disposal, & Recreation. 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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