The Naples Daily News Editorial Board writes – “Lee County commissioners earned the year’s top kudos for their bold vote to spend $42.3 million through the Conservation 20/20 program to acquire the wetlands-rich 3,922-acre undeveloped Edison Farms… When the year began, we were optimistic Collier County commissioners would advance a renewal of the Conservation Collier land preservation program to the 2018 ballot. While a financial patch was put into place to allow the program to make some purchases, it appears that referendum now won’t come until 2020. This is the biggest environmental disappointment of 2017.” Read A year of advancements, setbacks for environment
Kevin Spear reports for the Orlando Sentinel – “A Central Florida bird has begun to plunge so swiftly toward extinction in the wild that biologists are considering the risky option of capturing the last of the species, including fewer than two-dozen females. If that happens, those Florida grasshopper sparrows would be added to a pair of small, captive populations. But there are rising fears the captive birds are being threatened by lethal disease as they are being bred for what biologists hope will be their eventual release… It is often referred to as the most endangered bird in the continental U.S. Last year, biologists counted 40 females and 74 males in the wild. They were disheartened this year after finding 22 females and 53 males. Officials at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service say that despite intensifying efforts for their recovery, Florida grasshopper sparrows are on a path to vanish from their native landscape in as few as two years… Ashleigh Blackford, a supervisory biologist with the wildlife service, said assaults on the sparrow that include loss of habitat, predators, fire ants, storms and disease may be beginning to ‘snowball.’… Biologists are haunted by the last bird that vanished in the continental U.S., the dusky seaside sparrow of Orange and Brevard counties.” Read Central Florida endangered sparrow ‘unlikely’ to survive in the wild
Robert Knight writes for The Gainesville Sun – “The past year has been a mixed blessing for Florida’s springs… The Legislature added… $50 million to its Springs Legacy funding, amplified by millions from the state’s water management districts and many local utilities. Some of this money will be spent on springshed land acquisition, helping to prevent future development pressure. However, the lion’s share is earmarked for questionable projects… [like] eliminating a trivial number of septic tanks, while simultaneously permitting more new homes with septic systems… Sadly, the region’s water management districts made a full-frontal attack on springs health this year under the guise of establishing protective minimum flows… Fortunately, one environmental event during 2017 is truly inspirational. A group of lawyers from Washington, D.C., and their cohorts in Florida took on a behemoth international corporation for ongoing environmental degradation, and won!” Read A mixed year for the health of Florida’s springs
Kristi Gross and Katherine Viloria report for Wink News – “The smell of dead fish due to red tide is clogging up beaches in Charlotte County.” Read Red tide takes toll on tourism in Charlotte County
Chris Hand writes for the Florida Times Union – “The Florida Constitution is clear: It protects the important principle of home rule, which recognizes that cities and counties are often best positioned to address their own needs… Unfortunately, some members of the Legislature appear to have forgotten this bedrock tenet… Many bills filed for consideration in the 2018 legislative session have abandoned the time-honored belief in home rule for a Tallahassee-knows-best philosophy… Perhaps most emblematic of this concerning trend are proposals to ban local governments from preserving trees. This would be especially bizarre in Jacksonville, where 76 percent of Duval County voters adopted a tree protection charter amendment in November 2000.” Read Legislators should get out of Downtown’s way
Timothy Cama reports for The Hill – “The Trump administration concluded… that “incidental” killings of about 1,000 bird species are not illegal. The legal opinion… seeks to reverse a policy issued in the final days of the Obama administration that found such incidental killings or harm were illegal under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA). The Trump policy is a boon to offshore drillers, wind companies, oil refiners and others who faced thousands of dollars of potential fines when migratory birds were killed by their operations.” Read Trump admin says ‘incidental’ bird killings aren’t illegal
Alex Leary reports for the Tampa Bay Times – “Florida is likely to gain two additional districts following the 2020 census. That would increase the House delegation to 29 seats from 27. It is driven by continued population growth.” Read Population growth means Florida likely to add two more Congressional districts
Jason Mark writes for Sierra Club – “[T]hese are the environmental happenings that were emblematic of 2017, and which are likely to play out for years to come.” Read Top 10 Environmental Stories of 2017
From Our Readers
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Upcoming Environmental Events
January 9, 12:00 pm – Attend Springs Academy Tuesday, a lunchtime lecture series on Florida’s springs, in High Springs. January’s lecture is on Springs Biology with special guest Dr. Stephen Walsh of the USGS Wetland and Aquatic Research Center. For more information, click here or call (386) 454 – 2427.
January 20, 9:00 am – Participate in the annual Newnan’s Lake Cleanup in Gainesville. Volunteers will meet at Earl P. Powers Park (5910 SE Hawthorne Rd) on the southwest edge of the lake. Current Problems will provide cleanup supplies such as bags, grabbers, gloves, nets, and scales. There will be snacks and drinks for volunteers. For more information, contact Megan Black at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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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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