FCC News Brief - November 6, 2017

The Orlando Sentinel Editorial Board writes – “Central Florida’s toll-road authority could decide this month whether to move ahead with a plan to extend a highway through the middle of a wildlife preserve, or seek a different path. If authority board members are interested in respecting the wishes of Floridians to preserve the environment, the decision is easy: Reroute the road, and spare the land. The land at issue, the Split Oak Forest Wildlife and Environmental Area… was purchased in 1994… by Orange and Osceola counties and the Florida Communities Trust under the state land acquisition program known as Preservation 2000. Since then, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has been managing the property – removing invasive plants, conducting prescribed burns and helping to relocate threatened gopher tortoises there… [The property] has miles of trails for hiking and viewing wildlife like sandhill cranes, red-headed woodpeckers, gray foxes and other species. It is one of the only known viable habitats for endangered Florida scrub jays in Orange and Osceola counties… It’s a critical corridor for other wildlife in the region. It’s part of the Lake Hart Basin, the northernmost watershed for the Everglades… Running the parkway straight through the forest would inhibit or eliminate prescribed burns on the property, which are essential for maintaining habitat for gopher tortoises… Gopher tortoise burrows provide shelter for hundreds of other animals, so degrading their habitat would damage the forest’s entire ecosystem. The parkway extension would connect to land that two major property owners, Tavistock and Desert Ranches, have plans to develop… Their cooperation… in planning a route that spares the forest would send a message that both are committed to environmentally responsible and sustainable development.” Read Don’t cut wildlife preserve in two with Osceola Parkway extension

The Sun Sentinel Editorial Board writes – “The Everglades, already robbed of land and water for South Florida’s growth, should be off limits to oil drilling. Yet a judge’s October ruling could open the door to exploratory oil drilling in a portion of the Everglades in western Broward County. Despite the judge’s findings, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection should stand strong and reject the drilling proposal and, if necessary, send the fight to a higher court. In the meantime, the Florida Legislature… should ban oil drilling in new tracts of the Everglades… Drilling in the Everglades not only risks polluting the habitat of nearly two dozen threatened or endangered species, it also threatens to contaminate South Florida’s drinking water supply… Simply building the drilling platform and related facilities risks harm to the wetlands… Decades of draining to make way for farming and development has shrunk the Everglades to half its original size. Now, a $16 billion state-federal restoration project is underway to clean up pollution and restore water natural flows. More oil drilling shouldn’t be part of the mix.” Read Florida should stand strong against more Everglades oil drilling

Scott Powers reports for Florida Politics – “Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gwen Graham… blasted a state decision to renew an oil exploration permit in the Big Cypress National Preserve in the Everglades. Graham… criticized the decision by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to renew the exploration permit for Burnett Oil Co… ‘Protecting Big Cypress National Preserve is vital to preserving and restoring Florida’s Everglades. The state should be working to end oil drilling in the Everglades, not expand it,’ Graham stated… ‘As governor, I will fight to protect our clean land and water from oil drilling and fracking.’ The department responded by saying the activity was first approved by the U.S. National Park Service under President Barack Obama, and that position was upheld by a U.S. District Court decision in the Middle District of Florida earlier this year… Federal authorities have control over the lands, while the Florida department reviewed the permit to determine if it met all Florida requirements…” Read Gwen Graham blasts Everglades oil permit renewal

Jenny Staletovich reports for the Miami Herald – “Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commissioner Ron Bergeron… slid off a dock outside his Everglades hunting camp into inky black swamp water. This time water reached his chest. Back in June,… it only reached his waist. ‘There’s not one wading bird that can land in the Everglades right now,’ he said. ‘The Everglades is in serious condition, actual catastrophic conditions.’… An early start to the rainy season, followed by Hurricane Irma, a punishing record-breaking wet season, and an October lashing from a tropical storm have for weeks left South Florida’s water conservation areas… flooded… Tree islands that formed a thousand years ago, and provide habitat for deer, bears, raccoons, rabbits and even a panther spotted last year, have been under water for closet to 21 weeks, a period of inundation that could start to threaten their very existence… Over the decades, flood control has gradually whittled away at the number of trees islands, leaving only about 600 in the conservation areas west of the urban coast… Everglades restoration is supposed to fix the problems. But projects remain years away from being finished. So Bergeron, who has been meeting with the U.S. Corps of Army Engineers, is asking for a more immediate remedy: raise water levels in the massive canal that runs along the Tamiami Trail and dumps into Everglades National Park… But… Corps spokesman John Campbell said the agency does not plan to raise canal levels due to flooding concerns in neighborhoods further south… [T]he water in the conservation areas… has remained persistently high. That’s despite the Corps waiving most operational rules that normally prevent moving water to protect wildlife. Flood gates intended to keep nesting grounds for Cape Sable seaside sparrows dry and which should have closed Nov. 1 are still open, and water managers continue to move water into the Big Cypress National Preserve, where water is more than a half foot higher than normal.” Read Why is this Florida man chest deep in swamp water? Because the Glades are drowning

Tyler Treadway reports for the TC Palm – “Look for Lake Okeechobee discharges to the St. Lucie River to continue… The hurricane in early September raised Lake O’s elevation more than 3 feet, from about 13 feet 8 inches to more than 17 feet, its highest level since 2004. The Corps’ preferred range is 12 feet 6 inches to 15 feet 6 inches. And almost two months after the hurricane, the lake is still hovering around the 17-foot mark.” Read Lake Okeechobee hovers at 17-foot level, much higher than Army Corps of Engineers wants

Fred Grimm writes for the Sun Sentinel – “[R]ain is no longer a prerequisite for flooding in the 2400 block of East Las Olas Boulevard, a small commercial strip amid one of the most coveted waterfront neighborhoods in South Florida… Merchants worried that this week’s high tides, conspiring with a full moon, would once again inundate their little stretch of Las Olas and bring canal waters lapping at their doorways. By now, these freaky rainless floods have lost their novelty… Francesca Guerrera regularly consults tide schedules; keeps track of the full moons… Guerrera, who owns the FG Salon and Spa, showed me the two sump pumps she installed in the lovely courtyard out back to keep her salon dry. Since she opened FG… nine years ago, flooding has become an ever worsening aggravation. ‘Deeper and deeper. More and more often,’ she said… [I]t’s not just flooded homes and businesses and streets that worry local civic leaders. Sea levels in South Florida… are approaching the critical inflection point at which gravity will no longer drain inland canals. Sewers and septic tanks and drainage systems are nearing the same crisis point.” Read King tides wash away South Florida’s climate change skepticism

John Siciliano reports for the Washington Examiner – “Opponents of the Keystone XL oil pipeline have begun constructing a series of large solar arrays to block the path of the pipeline project in Nebraska. The solar panels, called the Solar XL project, are meant to serve as a “blockade” to stop the pipeline’s construction, according to environmental activists and senior members of the Democratic Party… The panels will serve as a reminder of what could be the alternative to building a big oil pipeline to ship “830,000 barrels of dirty tar sands oil” nearly 1,200 miles from Canada to the U.S. Gulf Coast, according to the anti-fossil fuel group 350.org… ‘We are doing this for a couple of reasons,’ Kleeb (chairwoman of the Nebraska Democratic Party) said… ‘TransCanada’s contract with the landowners says that you cannot build anything permanent inside the route, so we don’t take kindly to being told what to do by a foreign corporation,’ she said… The group 350.org said TransCanada would be granted eminent domain to take land as it sees fit to build the pipeline if the commission approves the project. ‘Landowners continue to fight eminent domain for private gain knowing this would be the first time the Public Service Commission grants those powers to a foreign corporation,’ the group said. In opposition to the company’s wishes, ‘we’ve decided to put clean energy directly inside the path, because if the Public Service Commission granted a permit to TransCanada, they would have to tear down clean energy in order to put up their dirty tar sands pipeline,’ said Kleep…” Read Activists build solar ‘blockade’ along Keystone XL pipeline route

Justin Welby reports for the New York Times – “As people of faith, we don’t just state our beliefs – we live them out. One belief is that we find purpose and joy in loving our neighbors. Another is that we are charged by our creator with taking good care of his creation. The moral crisis of climate change is an opportunity to find purpose and joy, and to respond to our creator’s charge. Reducing the causes of climate change is essential to the life of faith. It is a way to love our neighbor and to steward the gift of creation.” Read Our Moral Opportunity on Climate Change

 

 

 

From Our Readers

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Job Openings

Project & Content Manager for The Nature Conservancy (Job ID 45848)

Apalachicola Riverkeeper/Executive Director

Staff Attorney in St. Petersburg for the Center for Biological Diversity

Organizing Representative in Miami for Sierra Club Florida

 

Petitions

Save Endangered Sea Turtles from Drowning in Shrimp Trawls

Defend Attacks on the Marine Mammal Protection Act

Protect Florida’s Gulf Coast from Offshore Drilling

 Protect Weeki Wachee Springs; Stop the 7 Diamonds Mine in Pasco County

Tell Congress to Stop Sabal Trail

Stop New Phosphate Strip Mining in Florida

Ask County Commissions to Pass Bear-Friendly Trash Ordinances

Stop the Port Canaveral Rail Extension Project

Paynes Prairie in danger

Help Florida Become a “Pay for Shade” state

 

Upcoming Environmental Events    

November 7, 12:00 pm - Join the Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute at the North Florida Springs Environmental Center in High Springs for Springs Academy Tuesdays; a lunchtime lecture series on Florida’s springs. November’s lecture is on Springs Hydrogeology – Floridan Aquifer, Groundwater Recharge, Spring Flows with FSI Executive Director, Dr. Robert Knight. All lectures are free and open to the public. A recommended donation of $5 is appreciated. For more information, click here or call (386) 454 – 2427.

November 8, 12:45 pm – Attend Bats and Bees – Important for Nature at the Belvedere Library Community Room (325 Belvedere Blvd.) in The Villages. Shari Blissett-Clark, of the Florida Bat Conservancy, will discuss the work of the conservancy to protect native bat populations in Florida. She will also bring a sample of a bat house that is available for purchase. Carmen Fraccica, of the Florida Bureau of Plant & Apiary Inspection, will discuss beekeeping in Florida. For more information and to RSVP, email resourcewisdom@gmail.com.

November 10, 9:00 am – Attend the Cedar Key Climate Change Conference. This conference presents an examination of the research of climate change and sea level rise as it affects Cedar Key and the Levy Coast. For more information and to register, click here.

November 16, 7:00 pm – Attend Rivers, Birds and Water Wars with Todd Engstrom at the King Life Science Building (319 Stadium Drive) in Tallahassee. For more information, click here.

November 17, 5:00 pm Central Time – Attend the Apalachicola Riverkeeper Meet & Greet at the Historic First National Bank Building (2875 Caledonia Street) in Marianna. The Board of the Apalachicola Riverkeeper will join supporters for free refreshments. The Apalachicola Riverkeepr, Dan Tonsmeire, will give a river and bay report. For more information, email outreach@apalachicolariverkeeper.org.

November 20, 8:30 am – Attend the Highlands County Delegation meeting at the Highlands County Board of County Commissioners Chambers (600 S. Commerce Ave.) in Sebring. 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 floridaconservationcoalition@gmail.com.

November 20, 9:00 am – Attend the Walton County Delegation meeting at the Walton County Board of County Commissioners Chambers (76 North 6th Street) in DeFuniak. 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 floridaconservationcoalition@gmail.com.

November 20, 10:30 am – Attend the Holmes County Delegation meeting at the Holmes County Board of County Commissioners Chambers (107 E. Virginia Ave.) in Bonifay. 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 floridaconservationcoalition@gmail.com.

November 20, 11:45 am – Attend the Washington County Delegation meeting at the Washington County Board of County Commissioners Chambers (1331 South Blvd.) in Chipley. 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 floridaconservationcoalition@gmail.com.

November 20, 2:15 pm – Attend the Jackson County Delegation meeting at the Jackson County Board of County Commissioners Chambers (2864 Madison Street) in Marianna. 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 floridaconservationcoalition@gmail.com.

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 floridaconservationcoalition@gmail.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 floridaconservationcoalition@gmail.com.

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 floridaconservationcoalition@gmail.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 floridaconservationcoalition@gmail.com.

 

Do you know of an upcoming environmental event or meeting you would like to include in the FCC News Brief? Send us a quick e-mail and we will include it for you.

 

We hope you enjoy this service and find it valuable. Our goal is to provide you with the latest and most relevant environmental news for Floridians. Our hope is that you will use this information to more effectively and frequently contact your elected representatives, and add your voice to the growing chorus of Floridians concerned about the condition of our environment and the recent direction of environmental policies.

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Please send all suggestions, comments, and criticism to Gladys Delgadillo at floridaconservationcoalition@gmail.com.

 

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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