FCC News Brief - November 9, 2017

Craig Pittman reports for the Tampa Bay Times – “Former Manatee County commissioner Joe McClash and the environmental group Suncoast Waterkeeper have filed suit to overturn the county’s approval of a new development by well-connected homebuilder… Carlos Beruff. Beruff and partner Larry Lieberman have been trying for years to develop their waterfront land on Sarasota Bay, first as Long Bar Pointe, and now as Aqua By the Bay. Both projects have stirred controversy for their anticipated effect on the bay and its wetlands. Manatee commissioners rejected Long Bar Pointe in 2013, a decision Beruff challenged in court. He lost. The Manatee commissioner began a public hearing on his new version, called Aqua By the Bay… They concluded it… with a unanimous approval – but only after taking a three-hour recess during which Beruff and his consultants revised the development plan and drawings. Because the development plan changed during that recess, the lawsuit contends that commissioners should have held off voting until the public could be given a chance to review the revised plan… Beruff and his company... have made plenty of campaign contributions over the years, and he has become one of Gov. Rick Scott’s go-to picks for government agency jobs, ranging from the State University of Florida board to the Southwest Florida Water Management District board. He currently chairs the Constitutional Revision Commission.” Read Environmental activists sue to block waterfront project by powerful developer Carlos Beruff

Greg Stanely reports for the Naples Daily News – “Collier County will press forward with plans to ask voters to approve a new sales tax, but a fight remains over how to spend the money raised from it… Commissioners were set early this year to ask voters in 2018 to raise property taxes – not sales taxes – to bring back the land-buying program (Conservation Collier), which sets aside preserves and natural spaces across the county. However, commissioners don’t want to bring two tax increases to the same ballot. By pushing forward with the sales tax referendum in 2018, commissioners might decide to ask voters to approve the Conservation Collier tax in 2020. But that could prove to be a tough sell for voters, Commissioner Burt Saunders said… Saunders would like to blend Conservation Collier into the sales tax by setting aside $150 million raised from the sales tax to buy preserve land under Conservation Collier. Leaders of the area’s main environmental groups – the Audubon Society of the Western Everglades, the Florida Wildlife Federation and the Conservancy of Southwest Florida – all spoke out against Saunders’ proposal. The conservation program shouldn’t be a line item competing with a handful of other county projects, said Nancy Payton, of the Florida Wildlife Federation. The program was approved in 2002 and 2006. Voters will reapprove it again if it’s presented as its own project, no matter what happens with the sales tax, Payton said.” Read Collier County sales tax likely for ballot, but questions remain on spending it

David Smiley reports for the Miami Herald – “Miami voters chose Tuesday to tax themselves in order to fund nearly a half-billion dollars in government spending to help quell flooding, fund affordable housing, and pay for a slew of other public projects… With the new ability to take on debt, Miami’s city officials have promised to spend $192 million on storm drain upgrades, flood pumps and sea walls to curb flooding that has worsened in recent years and begin to fund an estimated $1 billion in projects needed to brace the city against rising seas.” Read Miami gets $200 million to spend on sea rise as voters pass Miami Forever bond

Craig Pittman reports for the Tampa Bay Times – “Brian Yablonski, who cast the deciding vote last year to delay any further Florida bear hunts until 2019, is leaving the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission after 14 years. His departure in January will make the acting chairperson Commissioner Liesa Priddy, an Immokalee cattle rancher who voted in favor of proceeding with a second bear hunt… Yablonski… served as deputy chief of staff and as policy director from 1999-2003 to Gov. Jeb Bush… In 2004, Bush appointed him to the wildlife commission. He was subsequently reappointed by Charlie Crist and Rick Scott.” Read FWC chairman who cast deciding vote to delay bear hunt is leaving

David Fleshler reports for the Sun Sentinel – “The Burmese pythons infesting the Everglades have survived everything thrown at them, keeping their grip on their adopted home and chowing down on raccoons, rabbits, deer, birds and alligators. Now wildlife officials are holding a series of meetings to ask the public for help… ‘We have all these different efforts going on across South Florida,’ said Kristin Sommers, exotic species coordinator for [FWC]. ‘We’re starting to wrap our minds around how we can develop a unified plan.’” Read Got an idea on how to control pythons in the Everglades? Florida wants to know

The Ledger Editorial Board writes – “[T]he Trump administration announced that state Rep. Neil Combee, a Polk City Republican, was selected as state director for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency… Combee has been a prominent figure in Polk politics since 1988, when he was elected to the first of four terms as a county commissioner. After retiring from the commission, he spent seven years on the Southwest Florida Water Management District’s Governing Board. He left that in 2012 to run for the Legislature, and is now midway through his third term… Combee is… the son of a dairy and sod farmer, and after college worked as a cowboy before becoming a cattle rancher and real estate agent in his own right. Combee will be based in Gainesville and thus has announced that he must vacate his legislative post in order to take his federal job…” Read Combee a good choice for top ag slot

Darryl Fears reports for The Washington Post – “Rep. Rob Bishop recently shepherded five bills out of the Natural Resources Committee he chairs that would dismantle the (Endangered Species Act) piece by piece… One measure would force the federal government to consider the economic impact of saving a species rather than make a purely scientific call… Under [another] proposal, citizens and conservation groups would be stripped of a powerful tool that allows them to file court claims against the government when they believe its protections fall short. Among other actions, the remaining bills would… block courts from ruling on the validity of the government’s decisions… Bishpop’s disdain was clear in the hearings… On witness panels, [Democrats] charge, farmers, dam operators, state wildlife managers and others opposed to the act got their say about its supposed shortcomings, without comparable opportunities for scientific and federal government experts to check those claims. The Interior Department even barred Fish and Wildlife staff members from meeting with the minority caucus’s staff members as they attempted to gather information for hearing preparations, according to lawmakers such as Rep. Raul M. Grijalva (Ariz.)… ‘If the complaint is [that] the recovery of a species takes too long, the question is for whom,’ [Peter S. Alagona] said. The agencies responsible for the effort ‘have lacked resources’ to address critical issues, ‘and part of the reason is they have been starved by the politicians who are now claiming it takes too long.’.. The drive to weaken the Endangered Species Act is coming at a crucial time, Ashe (a Fish and Wildlife director under the Obama administration who is now president and chief executive of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums) said. ‘Wide scientific consensus is that we’re living amid another great extinction crisis – people are calling it the sixth mass extinction,’ he said.” Read Powerful lawmaker wants to ‘invalidate’ the Endangered Species Act. He’s getting close.

Mike Vogel reports for Florida Trend – “[I]t appears that the state that went in a century from a water-logged afterthought to the nation’s third-most-populous could see the process reverse this century as land disappears. Rising insurance premiums, business interruptions from flooding and repeated flooding of homes and streets will, over time, force many Floridians to either relocate within the state or leave… ‘Look, we came here 100 years ago. It was a miserable place,’ says Miami-Dade Chief Resilience Officer Jim Murley. ‘The only we we learned how to live here was by managing water, and filling, and taking advantage of high land.’ He believes the future entails accepting the science, collaborating, deciding what areas to protect, what to let go and learning to live with the water.” Read Learning to live with water

 

 

 

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 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.

 

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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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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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