Tom Palmer writes for News Chief – “[I]nstead of working to take care of the backlog of high-priority conservation purchases based on the evaluations conducted by Florida’s Acquisition and Restoration Council, legislators are proposing to use [Amendment 1] money for beach renourishment to keep the tourism industry happy and for a variety of water supply projects to keep the development industry and public utilities happy. The Legislature has also allowed state agencies to use Amendment 1 money for routine operating expenses, which is not only inappropriate, but short-sighted…[W]ith the economy improving and development pressure ramping up again, the owners of some of the land targeted for conservation…may…sell the land to someone who may not have land conservation in mind…[A]s the real estate market heats up…, the cost of land will increase…, which will affect how far…conservation acquisition dollars go…[S]ome of the high-priority acquisitions on Florida Forever lie in Polk County. There are the 22,518 acres remaining to be acquired on the Lake Wales Ridge, a series of prehistoric islands…and the 31,863 acres for the Bombing Range Ridge…[T]his land contains a high concentration of rare and endangered species, many of them found nowhere else on the planet. This is part of [our] natural heritage…” Read Legislature ignores conservation amendment designed to conserve environment
Michael Moline reports for the Saint Peters Blog – “Florida would place its military installations at risk of commercial encroachment – and, possibly, closure – without adequate funding for land acquisition through the Florida Forever land acquisition program, a military support organization warned…Some $43 million from U.S. Department of Defense funds will be lost at the end of 2018 unless the state provides matching funds, Bruce Grant, Enterprise Florida vice president for military programs, told the Florida Defense Support Task Force [which]…operates under Enterprise Florida’s purview...Grant referred to a federal program called REPI – the Readiness and Environmental Protection Initiative. Since 2002, REPI has matched $19.4 million against $72 million in state funds to protect more than 68,000 acres buffering military bases… Senate President Joe Negron’s plan to stop discharges of toxic algae…would divert billions of dollars from Florida Forever… ‘Now is the time for us to really come together and…fund those (land acquisition) programs, so that our 20 (military) installations here in the state, that we don’t lose those, and that we do continue to gain and add to the economy,’ [Kellie Jo Killberg of Florida Defense Alliance] said…Rep. Clay Ingram…who chairs the task force shared those concerns.” Read Task Force wants money to fight encroachment on Florida military bases
The Tampa Bay Times Editorial Board writes – “Troubled Waters is the work of people and organizations who advocate for protecting Florida’s waters, chiefly the St. Johns Riverkeeper. The local screening is sponsored by the Sierra Club Tampa Bay Group and 1000 Friends of Florida. They all are highly critical of moves made under two terms of Gov. Rick Scott to slash regulations and resources credited with helping preserve the quality of the state’s waters against the pressures of population growth…[I]t’s hard to argue against the case they make…Florida has a finite supply of fresh water and because all is connected…all is at risk when any part suffers. And how that finite supply is allocated, one environmentalist notes, is entirely dependent on who has the best connections in Tallahassee...[A] county commissioner from Seminole makes the point that nothing of significance gets done in Florida politically until disaster strikes…There is hope that people from all walks of life are growing concerned enough to nudge the pendulum back on protecting Florida’s waters.” Read ‘Troubled Waters’ a call to action for saving Florida’s lifeblood
Emiliea Hitchner reports for The Florida Times Union – “[T]he St. Johns River Water Management District issued a water shortage warning for counties with the biggest rainfall deficits. But there are a couple problems with that warning, according to St. Johns Riverkeeper Lisa Rinama. ‘It’s falling short because they’re not getting the message out to St. Johns and Duval counties, which are two counties that significantly use the water supply,’ Rinaman said… ‘We don’t have a lot of recharge here, so then we’re withdrawing water from other counties and we’re pulling away from the counties that are under the water shortage warning,’ Rinaman said…Rinaman said the warning is more symbolic than anything, since its based on voluntary efforts to reduce water used on golf courses and landscaping…[She] said warnings should be mandatory…All counties should be included because she believes the water shortage could become a statewide problem before long. ‘Right now the state kind of takes the position of ‘water for all forever’ and it’s a finite source,’ she said. ‘We have to take responsible measures now to conserve water…’” Read St. Johns Riverkeeper believes water shortage could soon become a statewide problem
Jeff Weiner reports for the Orlando Sentinel – “[HB 17] proposed by Rep. Randy Fine…would prohibit local governments from imposing new regulations on businesses, professions or occupations unless the restrictions are specifically authorized by state law…The full scope of the bill is unclear. Local officials say they’d need to review hundreds of ordinances against state law to determine which are expressly allowed, a standard which they say is ill-defined… ‘At a minimum, the basic premise is that the county would lose its ability to…manage incompatible zoning uses or have regulations reducing water pollution,’ [Alan Marshall, an official in Orange County’s Community, Environmental and Development Services Department] said…Opposition to the bill among Florida’s local governments has crossed the state map and party lines.” Read Local governments decry bill that would limit regulations
The Associated Press reports – “Those opposing the [fracking ban] argue the…ban could cost the state, litigation-wise, because it would result in taking away property rights and the ability to extract oil. ‘The bill does nothing to foreclose the traditional oil and gas operations that we currently have here in the state of Florida…, ‘Sen. Dana Young, the bill’s sponsor, said at the press conference. The legislation comes at a time when the anti-fracking movement has ballooned across the state. According to a Floridians Against Fracking report, 90 communities have introduced measures seeking to ban the practice one way or another…While Senate President Joe Negron has vowed to make the environment one of his priorities, he has not taken a firm stance on the ban.” Read Fracking ban story
Katrina Elsken reports for Okeechobee News – “Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Project (CERP) plans call for the EAA reservoir project to start in 2021…Corps and SFWMD officials agree that for the plan to work to optimal levels, those projects need to be done in a certain order. That order is the IDS…The plan is reviewed regularly – most recently in December 2017 – and some adjustments are made, often to reflect delays due to funding shortfalls. The order of the projects has to do with the way water flows, the need to create flowage paths and establishment of treatment areas to clean water before it moves into environmentally-sensitive areas. For example, before an EAA reservoir could be used to store water, the Central Everglades Planning Project (CEPP) must be completed to restore the water flow from the lake. CEPP Was approved by Congress last year. And before water from an EAA reservoir can flow to Florida Bay, a portion of the Tamiami Trail must be raised to let more water sheetflow south from the water conservation areas. Allowing water to sheetflow slowly over marshes is important because this is the natural process to clean the water of excess nutrients.” Read Corps, SFWMD promote 2021 plan for EAA reservoir
Jenny Staletovich reports for the Miami Herald – “Of the many ways used to diagnose the health of the Everglades, the most bizarrely beautiful by far…is the scarlet-plumed roseate spoonbill… ‘We don’t have a quote, unquote dry season in the bay anymore,’ [Lorenz of Audubon] said, describing the time of year when the bay becomes a massive nursery for spoonbills and all kinds of wading birds…Spoonbills feed by shuffling across the shallows to stir up mud and use their beaks to feel, rather than their eyes to see, prey…Since 2000, water levels have risen around the bay by five inches…essentially eliminating the season when subsiding waters pool and collect prey like fish in a barrel, perfect for parents feeding young chicks…More and more, the bay’s birds – which historically nested on islands – are packing up and moving inland…While it’s good that the birds are able to move and adapt, scattering across the state means their numbers will likely never recover to historic heights…” Read This bird has something to say about Florida Bay – and it’s not good
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 21, 7:30 pm – Attend a screening of Troubled Waters, Connections and Consequences at the Tampa Theatre (711 N Franklin Street) in Tampa. The film will be followed by a panel discussion featuring water experts.
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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We hope you enjoy this service and find it valuable. Our goal is to provide you with the latest environmental news from around the state. 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 70 conservation organizations and over two thousand individuals devoted to protecting and conserving Florida’s land, fish and wildlife, and water resources.
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