Steve Patterson reports for the Florida Times Union – “Conservation activists’ challenge to a permit to withdraw aquifer water near the weakened but iconic Silver Springs in Marion County has been rejected by a state administrative law judge. A ruling from administrative judge E. Gary Early said evidence in the legal fight over water use by Sleepy Creek Lands LLC suggests the withdrawal ‘will have no material or significant adverse impact to the source of the water’ or the springs and the wildlife depending on them. The order… - technically, a “recommended order” – returns the final decision on the permit to the St. Johns River Water Management District… District staff recommended denying a permit to Sleep Creek’s planned cattle operations in 2014, and permit opponents argued the springs that feed the Silver River have already been harmed by too much water withdrawal… ‘Silver Springs deserves better. This permit rubs salt in the wounds of a dying springshed,’ Riverkeeper Lisa Rinaman said. ‘It’s a shame that the district can get away with reversing their position on this.’” Read Riverkeeper challenge to Silver Springs ranch permit rejected
The Naples Daily News Editorial Board writes – “The largest voting bloc in Collier County isn’t red voters or blue voters. It’s green voters. That was the colorful but appropriate distinction drawn by Nancy Payton of the Florida Wildlife Federation… Payton was urging commissioners not to include the Conservation Collier land preservation program in deliberations about a referendum creating a local sales tax for backlogged projects… Conservancy of Southwest Florida and Audubon officials likewise urged commissioners to hold a referendum specifically on whether a property tax should be renewed for Conservation Collier, rather than commingle it with a sales tax question. Conservation Collier was created by voters in 2002 as a property tax of 25 cents per $1,000 of taxable value to acquire, then maintain sensitive and habitat lands… Our editorial board agrees with the environmental groups’ position to keep Conservation Collier’s question separate… As Conservancy leader Nicole Johnson recently told commissioners, Conservation Collier ‘has brand integrity’ and should be separated out for voters to decide whether to reinstate the tax.” Read Conservation Collier decision should stand on its own
Tom Palmer writes for The Ledger – “The environment has entered the discussion before the Constitutional Revision Commission. Panel member Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch, an activist from an area of Florida affected by discharges from Lake Okeechobee, has proposed two amendments to be included on the 2018 ballot. One would add an elected Commissioner of Environmental Protection to the Florida Cabinet, which would remove environmental protection from the direct authority of the governor and bring clearer accountability for state environmental policy decisions. The other would add a provision to the constitution to give people the right to a clean and healthful environment… If the latter proposal reaches the ballot and if Florida’s voters approve it, the question is how it would be implemented by the Florida Legislature and what kind of litigation its enforcement would generate. I base that on the legalistic parsing the 2014 Florida Water and Land Conservation Initiative, which was intended to generate revenue to restart the Florida Forever program, suffered at the hands of the Florida Legislature. We’re still waiting for substantial funding of the program rather than siphoning the money away for routine agency operating expenses and local pork barrel public works projects that other legitimate sources of revenue could fund. The amendment potentially dedicates hundreds of millions of dollars a year to the Florida Forever program. However, the Florida Senate is reviewing a $100 million proposed appropriation.” Read Should environment be in the state constitution?
Bruce Ritchie reports for Politico Florida – “Scott’s 87.4 billion (state budget) request includes $3.6 million for the Department of Environmental Protection to assist local governments in sea level rise planning and coastal “resilience” projects… Less than three years ago, national media highlighted a report that the Scott administration had an informal policy banning the phrases “climate change” and “sea level rise.”… Some environmentalists said Scott’s request represents progress even if it is not enough. ‘Local governments, not the state, are doing the hard work of addressing climate change,’ said Thomas Hawkins, policy and planning director at 1000 Friends of Florida. ‘The proposed $3.6 million investment is needed, but not sufficient.’ Sierra Club Florida lobbyist David Cullen said of Scott’s request, ‘It’s about time he at least recognizes the consequences of climate change. But the budget does nothing to move Florida from fossil fuels to renewable energy… That would make a real difference and address the cause, not just the symptoms.’ Earlier this year, the Legislature passed and Scott signed FL HB181 (17R), creating a state task force to coordinate state efforts dealing with “natural hazards” including “sea level change.”… The governor’s request for the $3.6 million also allows the money to be spent for the protection of coral reefs, including restoration and monitoring.” Read Scott funding request to address sea level rise seen as turnaround for administration
Robert Knight writes for The Gainesville Sun – “Florida is home to the 1,515-mile Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail, as well as 57 inland water trails that have hundreds of miles of spring runs, rivers, lakes and estuaries… Currently in Florida there are hundreds of thousands if not millions of individuals enjoying these nature-based recreational activities. The economic return from this dedicated and expanding group of paddlers is equally great. And yet, the expansion of nature-based tourism in Florida is dependent on the continuing presence of abundant and clean natural waters… Too much has already been lost due to excessive groundwater pumping, discharge of nutrient-laden wastes and lax enforcement of environmental laws intended to protect these natural treasures. We have only ourselves to blame if we do not elect and hold accountable governmental officials to better protect our valuable natural resources. You the voter must be alert for election-day-environmentalists who hope to be re-elected, only to continue their real agenda of supporting developers and industries that prioritize short-term profits over the health of Florida’s waters. Please consult with your local environmental watchdog organizations between now and next year to find out who they recommend as trustworthy candidates.” Read Florida’s paddlers must unite to protect environment
Tyler Treadway reports for the TC Palm – “Sometime Saturday, the 100 billionth gallon of water discharged from Lake Okeechobee since mid-September poured into the St. Lucie River… By comparison, discharges during the “Lost Summer” of 2013 totaled 136.4 billion gallons, and discharges in 2016, when toxic algae blooms blanketed much of the St Lucie River estuary, totaled 237 billion gallons… And there’s no end to the discharges in sight… But because the lake has dropped, on Friday the Corps cut back the total flow through the St. Lucie Lock and Dam into the river from an average of about 3 billion gallons a day to 18 billion gallons a day. Usually, between half and two-thirds of that water is from the lake. The rest is runoff from western Martin County farmland into the C-33 Canal, which connects Lake O and the St. Lucie… This year’s discharges didn’t bring toxic blue-green algae blooms with them, like in 2016, but water in parts of the St. Lucie River and lagoon is contaminated with enteric bacteria. Four river and lagoon sites along the Treasure Coast and one at Jupiter had bacteria levels so high the Florida Department of Health advised against swimming. The bacteria – an indicator of fecal pollution – is not a result of the discharges. It comes from local stormwater runoff that flushes human sewage waste from pets, wildlife and livestock into the water.” Read Lake Okeechobee discharges to St. Lucie River, Indian River Lagoon top 100 billion gallons
The Citrus County Chronicle Editorial Board writes – “Why continue to throw dollars infinitely toward clean up while ignoring the root cause of the problem? A huge chunk, up to 40 percent, of the pollution in our rivers and springsheds is from septic tanks… If we allow that pollution to go unchecked, we are fighting an expensive, and frankly, a losing battle to improve the water quality in our county… Simpson… has made sewer funding one of his top priorities.” Read Simpson’s sewer plan a solution to pollution
Richard Hanten writes for the Daytona Beach News Journal – “For 20 years we have lived on the Halifax River in the Tomoka Aquatic Preserve… To me, a “preserve” is to protect wildlife… The 50-foot-plus boats race by – destroying our docks, eroding the shorelines, and killing our manatees… There needs to be a slow zone to protect these creatures… and the authorities need to help.” Read Drop boat speed to protect wildlife
From Our Readers
The information in this section is forwarded to you at the request of some of our readers. Inclusion in this section does not necessarily constitute endorsement by the FCC.
Upcoming Environmental Events
November 21, 5:00 pm – Attend the Liberty County Delegation meeting at the Liberty County Clerk-Circuit (10818 NW State Road 20) in Bristol. Tell your Delegation that you want the LARGEST SHARE of Amendment One funds, approximately $300 million this upcoming session, to be dedicated annually to land conservation programs. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
November 21, 6:00 pm Central Time – Attend the Calhoun County Delegation meeting at the Calhoun County Courthouse (20859 Central Ave. East, Room 130) in Blountstown. Tell your Delegation that you want the LARGEST SHARE of Amendment One funds, approximately $300 million this upcoming session, to be dedicated annually to land conservation programs. For more information, contact email@example.com.
November 27, 9:00 am – Attend the Pasco County Delegation meeting at the Wesley Chapel Center for the Arts (30651 Wells Rd.) in Wesley Chapel. Tell your Delegation that you want the LARGEST SHARE of Amendment One funds, approximately $300 million this upcoming session, to be dedicated annually to land conservation programs. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
November 29, 9:00 am – Attend the Indian River County Delegation meeting at 1801 27th St in Vero Beach. Tell your Delegation that you want the LARGEST SHARE of Amendment One funds, approximately $300 million this upcoming session, to be dedicated annually to land conservation programs. For more information, contact email@example.com.
November 29, 9:00 am – Attend the Alachua County Delegation meeting at the Santa Fe College NW Campus Fine Arts Hall (3000 NW 83rd St) in Gainesville. Tell your Delegation that you want the LARGEST SHARE of Amendment One funds, approximately $300 million this upcoming session, to be dedicated annually to land conservation programs. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
November 30, 5:30 pm Attend the Bay County Delegation meeting at the Bay County Board of County Commissioners’ Chambers (840 W 11th St.) in Panama City. Tell your Delegation that you want the LARGEST SHARE of Amendment One funds, approximately $300 million this upcoming session, to be dedicated annually to land conservation programs. For more information, contact email@example.com.
December 1, 8:30 am – Attend the Palm Beach County Delegation meeting at the Dolly Hand Cultural Arts Center of Palm Beach State College (1977 SW College Drive) in Belle Glade. Tell your Delegation that you want the LARGEST SHARE of Amendment One funds, approximately $300 million this upcoming session, to be dedicated annually to land conservation programs. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
December 1, 9:30 am – Attend the Sh.O.R.E Symposium (“Sharing Our Research with Everyone”) in New Smyrna Beach. Hear from leading IRL professionals and student researchers. The keynote address will be given by bestselling author and marine biologist, Dr. Wallace J Nichols. For more information and to register, click here.
December 7-8 – Attend the Annual Florida Remediation Conference in Orlando. The Conference includes two days of technical sessions on soil and groundwater cleanup, over 90 exhibitors, and a charity golf event. For more information, click here.
December 11, 5:30 pm – Attend the Escambia County Delegation meeting at the Pensacola State college Jean and Paul Performance Studio (1000 College Coulevard) in Pensacola. Tell your Delegation that you want the LARGEST SHARE of Amendment One funds, approximately $300 million next year, to be dedicated annually to land conservation programs. For more information, contact email@example.com.
December 13, 12:45 pm – Attend the next Villages Environmental Discussions Group meeting at the Belvedere Library Community Room (325 Belvedere Blvd.) in the Villages. Speakers include Sam Wartinbee who will discuss Villages Water-Related issues and Ranger Craig Littauer who will discuss opportunities at Silver Springs State Park. For more information and to RSVP, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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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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