FCC News Brief - October 20, 2017

Nick Evans reports for WFSU – “The Florida Cabinet has approved a conservation easement in the Lake Okeechobee watershed… ‘So by paying these ranchers to restore the wetlands that’s a way to keep the water in the watershed rather than having it get discharged into Lake Okeechobee,’ [Eric Draper of Audubon Florida] says… Under the $5.7 million easement, [the Corona family will] continue ranching in exchange for maintaining wetlands…” Read FL Cabinet Approves Lake Okeechobee Area Conservation Easement

David Fleshler reports for the Sun Sentinel – “Kanter Real Estate LLC… had applied for a permit for a single exploratory well in wetlands about six miles west of Miramar… The Florida Department of Environmental Protection rejected the company’s application, which had generated considerable local opposition, citing the impact to wetlands and lack of evidence that sufficient oil was there. But Florida Administrative Law Judge E. Gary Early found that the work was unlikely to threaten groundwater, would take place in an already degraded section of the Everglades and appeared to have a good chance of finding a significant amount of oil. ‘The Department has previously permitted oil wells within the greater Everglades, in areas of a more pristine environmental nature, character, and location than the Pocket,’ he wrote, referring to the area in which the well was proposed… ‘It may not be pristine Everglades, but it’s the Everglades,’ [Matthew Schwartz of the South Florida Wildlands Association] said. ‘It supports a wide variety of species, including the snail kite, Everglade mink and wood storks. Oil and the Everglades are a terrible mixture.’… ‘The fact that the proposed well will penetrate the Biscayne Aquifer does not create a significant risk of contamination of the Biscayne Aquifer,’ [the judge] wrote. ‘The drilling itself is no different than that done for a municipal disposal well that penetrates through the aquifer much closer to areas of water production than the Well Site.’… The judge’s ruling is a recommended order, which gives the environmental department some room to reject it. Under the law, the department must usually accept the judge’s findings of fact but can reject his conclusions of law. If the department again rejects the application, the company can sue in circuit court.” Read Oil-drilling plan revived for Broward Everglades

Scott Maxwell writes for the Orlando Sentinel – “[T]he parking-lot owner had cleared land without a permit, paved over wetlands and performed work that could affect the ‘flooding of adjacent properties,’ according to the St. Johns River Water Management District. It took 12 years – and court action – to resolve the case with Park, Bark and Fly… But the fine was ultimately levied… Park, Bark and Fly now wants permission to disrupt nearly 30 acres more… To get that permission for further destruction from the (water management) district, Park, Bark and Fly has hired a firm run by a plugged-in guy… the chairman of the district’s governing board. Yes, the appointed head of the agency that decides which businesses can destroy wetlands also lets businesses hire him to help get those destruction permits… for $155 an hour. At least that was the price John Miklos was charging the last time we wrote about this… He has made a habit of making private profits off the public agency he helps run… It’s an obvious conflict… Local newspapers’ editorial boards – including those at the Orlando Sentinel, the Daytona Beach News-Journal and Brevard County’s Florida Today – have all called for Miklos to step down… Yet neither Scott nor Miklos’ fellow board members, who have repeatedly elected him chairman, seem to give a flip about any of this. So the conflicts continue.” Read Continuing conflicts at water board erode trust

Anne Delaney reports for the Pensacola News Journal – “Despite a two-hour meeting in which an immediate solution failed to be reached on eliminating red-clay sediment from Indian Bayou, some area residents said they were encouraged by the progress of county and state officials… County and FDOT officials at the meeting reiterated that their agencies and their personnel are following “best management practices” to control sediment runoff… (Northwest Florida Water Management District Executive Director) Cyphers said… he can move forward with other state agencies in search of other funding sources so that there is money available to support the bayou in the long term.” Read No solution on Indian Bayou following citizen-requested meeting

Tarik Minor, Jodi Mohrmann, and Eric Wallace report for News 4 Jax – “Resident in one Alachua County city are demanding change after more than two weeks without safe tap water to drink. A precautionary boil water notice has been in effect in High Springs since Oct. 3, all because of floodwaters from Hurricane Irma. Water plant managers pump their drinking water out of the aquifer, and then treat it to make it safe to consume. Irma, however, flooded nearby rivers, causing sediment like dirt and leaves to pollute the wells… [I]n some areas, the water is tinted brown or yellow… Water Plant Manager Rodney Hoffman, who conducts daily water quality tests, said the system isn’t maintaining enough chlorine because of the amount of sediment in the water. Hoffman said, in spite of the public’s frustration, there is no quick or easy answer… We’re told a new system would require City Council approval, would be expensive and that cost would likely be passed on to water customers.” Read Residents fed up with potentially dangerous drinking water

Chad Gillis reports for News Press – “Southwest Florida’s most famous couple is back on camera, and thousands of people are already tuning in each day. The Southwest Florida Eagle Cam is going into its sixth season and has been seen by more than 112 million viewers. Now the cameras are back on, and the eagles are putting the final touches on this season’s nest.” Read Southwest Florida Eagle Cam back for sixth season

Alexander C. Kaufman reports for the Huffington Post – “Stinnett founded the nonpartisan Environmental Voter Project three years ago on the hunch that a substantial number of people care about environmental issues and are registered to vote, but don’t show up on Election Day. The veteran Boston-based campaign strategist developed a formula for identifying these voters… Stinnett put his system to the test in a Boston city council election in November 2015… He set aside a small control group and hit the rest of the nonvoters with the full treatment – door-to-door canvassing, digital ads, mailers, emails, texts and phone-bank calls. He saw a 4.8 percent increase in turnout compared to the control group… The group now plans to launch in… Florida… ‘We want them to vote as often as NRA members do,’ Stinnett said, referring to the National Rifle Association’s record of registering its members to vote and mobilizing them to cast their ballots for certain candidates, who tend to win after receiving NRA support… The NRA only spends about $3 million a year on lobbying, but the group spurs its members to be politically active. In one study…, gun rights supporters were four times more likely to have donated money or written to a politician than people who favored stricter permits on guns.” Read This Man is Building an ‘Army of Environmental Super Voters’ to Rival the NRA in Turnout

William Wan reports for The Washington Post – “A new study shows how big a role climate change and natural disasters likely played in sparking… political uprisings… The study… combines ice core dating of ancient volcanic eruption with papyrus records of uprisings to show that each time there was a volcanic eruption during Egypt’s Ptolemaic period, it led almost inevitably to unhappiness and revolt… Egypt during the Ptolemaic age… was a flourishing cultural and military powerhouse…. But the Ptolemaic Empire was also deeply dependent on crops watered by the summer flooding of the Nile. During years when that flooding didn’t happen, harvests were devastated and there was famine and civil unrest. What the Ptolemaic kings didn’t know was that those dry years were often caused by volcanic eruptions, sometimes as far away as the other side of the world, that sent up sulfates into the atmosphere and caused dramatic changes to global weather patterns.” Read Ancient Egypt’s rulers mishandled climate disasters. Then the people revolted.





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Upcoming Environmental Events    

October 20, 9:00 am – Attend the St. Johns County Delegation meeting at the St. Johns County Auditorium in the County Administration Building (500 San Sebastian View) in St. Augustine. Tell your Delegation that you want the LARGEST SHARE of Amendment One funds to be dedicated annually to land conservation programs. For more information, contact floridaconservationcoalition@gmail.com.

October 20, 10:00 am – Attend the Hendry County Delegation meeting at LaBelle City Hall (481 W. Hickpochee Ave.) in LaBelle. Tell your Delegation that you want the LARGEST SHARE of Amendment One funds to be dedicated annually to land conservation programs. For more information, contact floridaconservationcoalition@gmail.com.

October 20, 4:00 pm – Attend the Flagler County Delegation meeting at the City of Palm Coast Council Chamber (160 Lake Ave) in Palm Coast. Tell your Delegation that you want the LARGEST SHARE of Amendment One funds to be dedicated annually to land conservation programs. For more information, contact floridaconservationcoalition@gmail.com.

October 21, 1:00 pm – Attend a Legislative Training Workshop hosted by the Sierra Club-Suwannee-St. John’s Group, the League of Women Voters of Citrus County, and the Nature Coast Unitarian Universalists Social Justice Committee at the Dunnellon Public Library (20351 Robinson Road) in Dunnellon. Attendance is free, limited to the first 50 people to register. Panelists for Q&A include: Florida Senator Charlie Dean, Bob Palmer, PhD, former Staff Director of the Committee on Science, Space and Technology, U.S. House of Representatives; Brain Coleman, Citrus County Board of County Commissioners; Dave Cullen, Sierra Club lobbyist; Walter Green, Dunnellon Mayor; Whitey Markle, Chair of Sierra Club Suwannee St-Johns group; and Nathan Whitt, former Dunnellon Mayor. For more information, contact Kathryn Taubert at kataubert@gmail.com.

October 28, 11:30 am – Join the Silver Springs Alliance for a scavenger hunt as you paddle this iconic waterway in Silver Springs.  Channel the spirits of Florida's river past by dressing up in a costume that reflects Florida's cultural heritage: Spanish conquistadors, pioneers, steamboat travelers, or movie characters from the Spring's film legacy!  Be creative and win a prize in our costume contest! All ages are welcome! Proceeds from this event will support the Silver Springs Alliance’s efforts to protect Silver Springs and River. For more information and to register, click here.

October 30, 4:00 pm – Attend the Nassau County Delegation meeting at the Nassau County Commission Chamber (96135 Nassau Place, Suite 1) in Yulee. Tell your Delegation that you want the LARGEST SHARE of Amendment One funds to be dedicated annually to land conservation programs. For more information, contact floridaconservationcoalition@gmail.com.

October 30, 5:00 pm – Attend the Leon County Delegation meeting at the Leon County Board of County Commission Chambers (5th Floor of the Leon County Courthouse at 301 S Monroe St) in Tallahassee. Tell your Delegation that you want the LARGEST SHARE of Amendment One funds to be dedicated annually to land conservation programs. For more information, contact floridaconservationcoalition@gmail.com.

October 31, 2:30 pm – Attend the Polk County Delegation meeting at the Florida Department of Citrus (605 E Main St) in Bartow. Tell your Delegation that you want the LARGEST SHARE of Amendment One funds to be dedicated annually to land conservation programs. For more information, contact floridaconservationcoalition@gmail.com.


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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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