FCC News Brief - October 6, 2017

The Orlando Sentinel Editorial Board writes – “[K]ey legislators appear to be warming up to what the voters wanted. Better late than never. This week the chairman of the state Senate’s Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee, Republican Rob Bradley… introduced a bill that would require the state to spend at least $100 million a year on Florida Forever, the state’s premier land-buying program. Under former Gov. Jeb Bush, legislators regularly put $300 million a year into the program… In the current year’s budget, Florida Forever didn’t get a penny, though another land-acquisition program was allotted $10 million… Last year a report co-authored by 1000 Friends of Florida… warned that 5 million acres of natural and farm lands in the state will be lost to development over the next 50 years unless policies are changed to protect them… A bill guaranteeing $100 million a year for Florida Forever won’t meet the expectations raised by Amendment 1 in 2014, but it would set a floor for the program that could be elevated in future years. By passing the bill, legislators can begin repaying the debt they owe voters.” Read Don’t wait forever to heed voters’ will on conservation amendment

Nick Evans reports for WFSU – “Orange Park Republican Senator Rob Bradley’s proposal would double the Florida Forever dollars officials at the Department of Environmental Protection are requesting. Last year the land conservation program got no new funding and Bradley doesn’t want to see that happen again. ‘I just think overall I would like to see the Legislature be more aggressive when it comes to taking those Amendment One dollars and using them for land conservation purposes,’ he says… ‘The ideal scenario from my standpoint would be we did $100 million for Florida Forever, $50 million for the St. Johns River, and $75 million for springs,’ Bradley says.” Read Senator Proposes $100M for Florida Forever

Kevin Spear reports for the Orlando Sentinel – “The region’s toll-road agency [held] a public meeting… about a controversial proposal to extend an Osceola County highway across Split Oak Forest… Split Oak Forest… was bought for preservation in the mid-1990s. Audubon Florida advocacy director Charles Lee has urged group members to oppose the road as a ‘destructive plan’ that ‘would cut through some of the last viable Florida scrub jay nesting areas in Orange and Osceola counties.’ Several environmental groups are fighting the concept as a threat to forest and wetlands and as a betrayal of early conservation efforts amid rapid growth.” Read Expressway authority to hold public meeting for proposed road across Split Oak Forest

Ed Killer reports for the TC Palm – “The food web has several critical links in it and in the Atlantic Ocean, menhaden are one of those foundation links tying so many species together as a commonly shared food source… Atlantic menhaden stocks are in the middle of a fishery tug-of-war… On one side, there is an industry… built on the premise of harvesting menhaden… to reduce the fish into fish oil products, fish solubles and fish meal for a variety of uses, including those fish oil pills we buy 100 to a jar at Wal-Mart. On the other side is an effort to conserve more menhaden for use as food by marine mammals like whales and dolphins, seabirds and fish species important for commercial and recreational fisheries. For example, summertime fishing off the Treasure and Space coasts depends upon menhaden for a robust bite from game fish like tarpon and food fish and tournament targets like kingfish. At 6 p.m. Oct. 10… the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission… will have the only Florida-based public hearing on what to do about managing menhaden stocks.” Read ‘Most important fish in the sea’ to be discussed Oct. 10

Craig Pittman reports for the Tampa Bay Times – “Ever since Richard Nixon occupied the White House, environmental activists have been clamoring to tear down the dam that’s blocking the Ocklawaha River from flowing freely through Central Florida… Over the decades many people have tried repeatedly to tear down the dam – both Lawton Chiles and Jeb Bush vowed to do it, and Sen. Jack Latvala backed its removal in 1998 – but nothing has succeeded. Even the Forest Service was in favor of the destruction in 2002, contending that the dam is ruining water quality in the Ocklawaha, reducing downstream productivity by fish and shellfish in both the Ocklawaha and the adjacent St. Johns River, and spreading exotic and nuisance plants such as hydrilla, not to mention blocking the passage of manatees and other species… Last year FDE filed a petition asking the Forest Service to take administrative action to kick the state off its land and tear down the dam. The federal agency rejected that petition, saying only that it was working with stakeholders to find a solution. West said that came as a surprise to her clients because they’re stakeholders too, and had not been included in any discussions. Thus, West said, the lawsuit is the next step.” Read Lawsuit being filed to tear down the Rodman reservoir dam

Colin Wolf reports for Orlando Weekly – “A new study published in the journal Biology Letters from the University of Florida claims that mammals have become so rare in the Everglades that mosquitoes are now feeding off the hispid cotton rat, a rodent which is one of the only known hosts of a mosquito-borne virus called the Everglades virus. Everglades virus causes fever, headache and in some rare cases, encephalitis (inflammation of the brain)… ‘As far as I am aware, this is the firs time that researchers have found that an invasive predator… has caused an increase in contact between mosquitoes and hosts of a human pathogen,’ said Burkett-Cadena.” Read Pythons are eating everything in the Everglades, so now mosquitos are forced to feed off diseased rats

Chris Mooney and Dino Grandoni report for The Washington Post – “The federal Fish and Wildlife Service… declined 25 separate petitions to list a variety of species as endangered or threatened, including the high-profile Pacific walrus, which is contending with sharp climate change trends in the Arctic where it spends much of its life atop floes of floating sea ice. The agency also declined a listing petition for the Florida Keys mole skink, a subspecies of lizard that lives on beaches and in coastal forests that face rising seas and were just swept by Hurricane Irma. The service determined that while the skink’s habitat could shrink by as much as 44 percent…, most of the habitat and soils that the species needs ‘will remain into the foreseeable future,’ at least out to the year 2060…. Pimm (a scientist at Duke University who specializes in endangered species and biological diversity) said, ‘it’s spectacular cowardice on the part of the Fish and Wildlife Service, who don’t have the courage to do what they are charged with doing, which is to evaluate scientific evidence, and not kowtow to undue political pressure.’… On Wednesday, the House Natural Resources Committee passed five bills amending the Endangered Species Act. They include one measure allowing for the consideration of economic factors in listing decisions and another measure curtailing protections under the act for the gray wolf in Wyoming and around the western Great Lakes.” Read Interior Department rejects 25 endangered species petitions, including several linked to climate change

Tim McDonnell writes for The Washington Post – “In 2009, President Barack Obama joined other Group of 20 leaders in a pledge to eventually phase out fossil fuel subsidies. The GOP tax plan gives little indication of keeping that commitment – and that could have significant implications for U.S. oil production and the climate… [T]he U.S. oil industry benefits from a dozen specialized subsidies adding up to about $4.6 billion per year… In many cases [the subsidies] determine whether it’s… worth drilling… Without federal and state subsidies, nearly half of U.S. oil production – about 45 percent – would be unprofitable at current prices… So, unless oil prices go rocketing up, reducing or eliminating those subsidies would likely lead to a significant reduction in oil production over time… But if the range of subsidies offered today remain, those new wells could produce up to 17 billion barrels over the next few decades… which in turn would produce around six gigatons of carbon dioxide. To meet the goal set out under the Paris climate agreement to keep warming ‘well below 2 degrees C above pre-industrial levels,’ the United States can emit no more than 30 to 45 gigatons of CO2 between now and 2050. So the oil produced as a result of subsidies could eat up 13 to 20 percent of the U.S. “carbon budget”…” Read Forget the Paris agreement. The real solution to climate change is in the U.S. tax code.




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Upcoming Environmental Events    

October 6, 8:30 pm – Attend a conference call with Mark Ruffalo kicking off the Ban Fracking campaign for the 2018 Legislative Session. For more information, click here.

October 7, 9:00 am – Attend the 2017 Everglades Symposium: Citizen Empowerment in Miami. For more information and to register, click here.

October 11, 12:45 pm – Attend the Villages Environmental Discussions Group meeting at the Belvedere Library Community Room in The Villages. Gary Kuhl and Amy Giannotti will be speaking. Gary Kuhl is a former Executive Director of the SWFWMD and Amy Giannotti is the Water & Lakes Manager in Winter Park, FL. For more information and to RSVP, email resourcewisdom@gmail.com.

October 11, 6:30 pm – Attend “Stop the Drill! Protecting the FL Coast from Offshore Drilling” at the West Florida Public Library (239 N. Spring St.) in Pensacola. Erin Handy of Oceana will update attendees on the push to lease parts of the Gulf for drilling, and share how citizens and businesses can get involved in the battle to keep the rigs away. She will also educate attendees on the seismic testing process which is blamed for the harm and death of whales and other marine life. For more information, contact 350pensacola@gmail.com

October 11, 7:00 pm – Attend “Losing the Grand Canyon: FAF Presents an Unforgettable Evening with Kevin Fedarko” in Orlando. Kevin is one of 24 who have hiked the entire 800-mile journey through the Canyon. What he learned along the way should concern all of us in Florida who love our environmental treasures. The evening will be moderated by Diane Roberts and tickets are $50. For more information and to buy tickets, click here.

October 16, 9:30 am – Attend the Suwannee County Delegation meeting at City Hall (101 White Ave SE) in Live Oak. Tell your Delegation that you want the LARGEST SHARE of Amendment One funds to be dedicated annually to land conservation programs.

October 16, 9:30 am – Attend the Orange County Delegation meeting on the 1st Floor of the Orange County Administration Center (201 South Rosalind Ave.) in Orlando. Testimony from citizens and community entities will begin at 2:30 PM. Tell your Delegation that you want the LARGEST SHARE of Amendment One funds to be dedicated annually to land conservation programs.

October 16, 2:00 pm – Attend the Columbia County Delegation meeting at the Administration Room of Florida Gateway College (149 SE College PL) in Lake City. Tell your Delegation that you want the LARGEST SHARE of Amendment One funds to be dedicated annually to land conservation programs.

October 16, 2:30 pm – Attend the Hernando County Delegation meeting at the Hernando County Commission Chambers (20 N. Main St., Room 263) in Brookesville. Contact Dorothy Dilworth beforehand and let her know you’d like to speak at the meeting. Tell your Delegation that you want the LARGEST SHARE of Amendment One funds to be dedicated annually to land conservation programs.

October 16, 5:00 pm – Attend the Taylor County Delegation meeting at 224 South Jefferson Street in Perry. Tell your Delegation that you want the LARGEST SHARE of Amendment One funds to be dedicated annually to land conservation programs.

October 16, 5:30 pm – Attend the Santa Rosa County Delegation meeting at Pesacola State College South Santa Rosa Center (5075 Gulf Breeze Parkway) in Gulf Breeze. Tell your Delegation that you want the LARGEST SHARE of Amendment One funds to be dedicated annually to land conservation programs.

October 17, 9:00 am – Attend the Palm Beach County Delegation meeting at the Solid Waste Authority Auditorium (7501 N. Jog Road) in West Palm Beach. Tell your Delegation that you want the LARGEST SHARE of Amendment One funds to be dedicated annually to land conservation programs.

October 17, 6:00 pm – Attend the Madison County Delegation meeting at 229 SW Pinckney St., Suite 107 in Madison. Tell your Delegation that you want the LARGEST SHARE of Amendment One funds to be dedicated annually to land conservation programs.

October 18, 9:00 am – Attend the Lee County Delegation meeting in the Nursing Building (Room AA-177) of Florida Southwestern State College at 8099 College Parkway in Fort Myers. Tell your Delegation that you want the LARGEST SHARE of Amendment One funds to be dedicated annually to land conservation programs.

October 18, 9:00 am – Attend the Broward County Delegation meeting at the Sunrise Civic Center (10610 West Oakland Park, Blvd) in Sunrise. You are encouraged to sign up to speak by October 15th by clicking here. Tell your Delegation that you want the LARGEST SHARE of Amendment One funds to be dedicated annually to land conservation programs.

October 18, 12:00 pm – Attend 1000 Friends of Florida’s webinar: Implementing Florida 2070: Successful Local Conservation Ballot Measures in Florida. The Trust for Public Land’s Will Abberger and Pegeen Hanrahan will share proven strategies to assist Florida communities with the design and passage of local ballot measures to generate new public funds for parks and land conservation. For more information and to register, click here.

October 18, 1:00 pm – Attend the Sumter County Delegation meeting in the conference room of The Villages Sumter County Service Center (7375 Powell Rd) in Wildwood. Tell your Delegation that you want the LARGEST SHARE of Amendment One funds to be dedicated annually to land conservation programs

October 18, 4:00 pm – Attend the Clay County Delegation meeting on the 4th Floor of the Administration Building at 477 Houston Street in Green Cover Springs. Tell your Delegation that you want the LARGEST SHARE of Amendment One funds to be dedicated annually to land conservation programs.

October 18, 6:30 pm – The Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute, the Center for Earth Jurisprudence, and the League of Women Voters of Orange County, Florida invite you to join us for an informational program on restoring the Wekiva River and Springs. Speakers include Dr. Robert Knight of FSI, Margaret Stewart of CEJ, and a panel discussion featuring local and state leaders on water initiatives for the upcoming 2018 legislative session. This event is free and open to the public. Doors open at 5:30 with light refreshments served. For more information, and to register, click here.

October 19, 6:30 pm – Attend “Natural Treasures of the Florida Panhandle,” a presentation by Bruce Means, Coastal Plains Institute, at The King Life Sciences Building, FSU, in Tallahassee.

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.


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About the FCC: The Florida Conservation Coalition (FCC) is composed of 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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