Jennifer Kay reports for the Associated Press – “Florida’s agriculture commissioner said…that the state anticipates winning its fight against flesh-eating maggots threatening endangered deer in the Florida Keys…[H]e [said] that no wild screwworm flies have been found in the island chain since Jan. 10. That amounts to three life cycles of the parasite, and officials have decided it’s safe to begin winding down efforts to keep the screwworms from spreading from the island chain… ‘Unfortunately, the most impacted species was one of the rarest, the Key deer[,’ said Commissioner Putnam.] Fewer than 1,000 Key deer are believed to survive. The infestation killed roughly 140 members of the unique herd…” Read Florida anticipates end to screwworm infestation in Keys
Jim Ash reports for WFSU – “The sponsor of a statewide ban on hydraulic fracturing in Florida says her chamber is in no mood for a compromise. ‘It was very clear that the Florida Senate is interested in a complete ban, straightforward, and we would like to stop fracking before it ever gets started here in Florida.’ A Senate panel unanimously approved the ban after an attorney for Collier Resources threatened a flurry of lawsuits.” Read Senate Not Gushing Over House Fracking Offer
Villages News reports – “Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet…approved the state acquisition of the 465-acre Silver Springs Sandhill site…near Silver Springs. The project site shares boundaries with Coehadjoe Park and Indian Lake State Forest, enhancing the open space connections between conservation lands, to the tune of more than 5,000 acres. The site will be managed by Marion County Parks and Recreation…Marion County’s partnership with the state of Florida to acquire the Silver Springs Sandhill site underscores an ongoing county priority to attract more visitors and capital to Marion County through unmatched ecotourism, while providing for the protection of environmental lands and parks for future generations…The site is located less than one mile from the headsprings and within the “Most Vulnerable” zone of the Marion County Aquifer Vulnerability Assessment…map.” Read Governor approves acquisition of Silver Springs Sandhill site in Marion County
Fred Hiers reports for the Ocala Star Banner – “It was a hard sell for the St. Johns River Water Management District staff to try to convince the 100 people at the agency’s public workshop…that it was safe for Silver Springs’ flow to…drop some more…[A]bout a dozen members of the audience…accused the water agency staff of everything from skewing the numbers to appease big agriculture, to being environmentally obtuse, and [protecting] their…jobs until retirement…Environmentalists say that they will sue to keep the MFLs from going into effect…At current pumping rates…, the spring will exceed proposed MFL levels by 2025, Register (the District division director for water supply) said, so the community must take mitigation steps in the form of conservation, getting more water back into the aquifer and looking for alternative water supplies…Restoring the spring and river will take…measures such as reducing nitrogen that goes into the aquifer and getting more rain, [Register] said… ‘Reducing pumping is not going to fix the springs.’” Read Crowd pushes back against water agency
Gimleteye writes for Eye on Miami – “The phenomenon is familiar in Florida: let the regulated community gradually weaken a regulatory system it despises then invest the masses in “outrage” against government. Here, citizens relied for a quarter century on an agency called the Florida Department of Community Affairs. Like the federal Clean Water Act that provides citizens with an avenue to challenge the EPA in federal court, Florida law provided an avenue for citizens to sue the Florida DCA. Simply put, the job of the DCA was to balance environmental and quality of life concerns with developers and Big Agriculture whose goal is maximum profit…Florida corporations involved in land development hated the DCA. Most Floridians were clueless about the DCA…Over time, lobbyists, lawyers, and politicians drove nails into the feet of the state agency. Finally, Gov. Rick Scott and state legislators pulled the beast out of the water and shot it on the shore. Today, the EPA is facing the same fate.” Read Dead Fish, Bad Air, Trump and the EPA
Tyler Treadway reports for the TC Palm – “A crowd of residents from south of Lake Okeechobee told state Senate President Joe Negron their communities, already in economic straits, could die if his proposal for a reservoir to stop discharges is enacted…Negron…appeared at a town hall meeting…in a packed auditorium at Pahokee Middle/High School…Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay…noted unemployment in the Glades is between 20 and 28 percent and about 40 percent of the population is below the poverty level. Taking 60,000 acres out of production will have ‘a ripple effect,’ McKinlay said, eliminating not only agricultural jobs, but union jobs at mills, and close down ‘mom-and-pop lunch places because people won’t have disposable income.’… ‘Please don’t make this an issue to save one area of your district to the harm of another,’ Janey Taylor, a former Hendry County commissioner and founder of the Glades Lives Matter group, told Negron…Negron promised there would be changes in his proposal as it works its way through the…Legislature… ‘We can craft something that will resolve the discharge issue and not have an adverse effect on residents and business in the Glades,’ Negron said.” Read Glades residents speak against Negron plan at meeting
Karl Fortier reports for FOX 4 – “Amber Crooks of the Conservancy of Southwest Florida said three of the panthers killed this year were struck by vehicles on State Route 82. ‘That particular location is a hotspot for Florida panther mortalities,’ Crooks said. ‘We know 846 and State Route 29 are (also) hotspots for panther mortalities.’ Crooks said she’s encouraged by plans from the Florida Department of Transportation to build more panther crossing structures…Two more…underpasses are scheduled to be built on State Route 80, as part of a road widening project. Several more are being planned for State Routes 29 and 82… ‘Once a panther crossing is installed, all sorts of wildlife will come to know and utilize it to avoid having to deal with the roads and the traffic,’ [Crooks] said.” Read More panther crossings on the way for Southwest Florida roads
Amy Joi O’Donoghue reports for Deseret News – “Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke approved a $22 million coal lease for central Utah…The move…unlocks 56 million tons of recoverable coal…long sought…to prolong the life of SUFCO, Utah’s largest coal mine…Zinke…appointed Mike Nedd as acting director of the national BLM…Zinke was blunt about the pivotal change. ‘Let me make one thing clear, the Interior Department is in the energy business, and Mike is an energy guy who understands the balance we must strike when developing resources and creating jobs on our public lands….’ Jeremy Nichols with WildEarth Guardians…called Zinke’s decision a ‘travesty.’ ‘I think what they are saying…is that they are not here to serve the American people. These are public resources, these are public lands. They are not the coal industry’s…’…Nathaniel Shoaff, an attorney with the Sierra Club, blasted the decision as well. ‘…Despite low demand in the U.S. and international markets for the coal Utah is already mining, Zinke has now placed over 6,000 acres of public land in jeopardy,’ he said.” Read Zinke: Interior Department in the ‘energy business’
From Our Readers
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Upcoming Environmental Events
March 20, 7:00 pm and 9:00 pm – Attend the Tallahassee premiere of Catching the Sun, an inspirational documentary about the global shift to solar and renewable energy. For more information and to purchase tickets ($5), click here.
March 22, 10:00 am – Participate in Reclaiming Florida’s Future for All at the Florida Capitol in Tallahassee. Floridians will make their voices heard by speaking directly with their elected officials on key energy and water issues facing Florida. Public transportation from several cities across the state will be offered, as will advocacy training on March 21st. For more information and to RSVP, click here.
March 24, 8:30 AM – Attend Solar PV: Is it for me? in Tallahassee. For tickets and more information, click here.
April 1, 10:30 am – Attend Solar: Unlimited Energy for the Sunshine State, a free educational program on solar power, at the Coastal Region Library (8619 W. Crystal St.) in Crystal River. For more information, please contact Nancy Kost at (352) 628 – 0698 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
April 1, 12:30 pm - Attend a free "Solar Co-op Information Meeting" for the Sarasota County Solar Co-op at North Port Library (13800 Tamiami Trail) in Northpoint. To register, click here.
April 9, 1:00 pm – Attend the 2017 Our Santa Fe RiverFest & Songwriting Contest in Fort White. There will be live music, a silent auction, and food! For more information and tickets, click here.
April 18, 5:00 pm – Attend the Suncoast Climate Change Symposium at USFSM’s Selby Auditorium (8350 N. Tamiami Trail) in Sarasota. The symposium will host presentations on climate change and its consequences for Florida, featuring Dr. Harold Wanless of the University of Miami, noted geologist and sea-level rise expert. The sustainability manager for the City of Sarasota will also discuss Sarasota’s “Climate Adaptation Plan.” Tickets are $15 for the general public, and free for students. To purchase tickets, click here.
April 18, 5:30 pm - Attend a free "Solar Co-op Information Meeting" for the Sarasota County Solar Co-op at the North Sarasota Library (2801 Newtown Blvd) in Sarasota. To register, click here.
April 25, 5:30 pm - Attend a free "Solar Co-op Information Meeting" for the East Broward County Solar Co-op and the West Broward County Solar Co-op at the Northwest Regional Library (3151 N. University Drive) in Coral Springs. To register, click here.
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