Tia Mitchell reports for The Florida Times Union – “[T]he Legislature is considering a bill that some say is an attempt to create a one-size-fits-all policy that would limit cities’ ability to regulate businesses and industries…McCormack (president of the Florida League of Mayors and mayor of Palm Shores) and a few dozen other mayors from across the state…spent the week in Tallahassee speaking to lawmakers and testifying against proposals they say amount to an attack on local control…Too many legislators are out of touch with how things work on the local level, (Atlantic Beach Mayor) Reeves said…Fischer, R-Jacksonville,…opposes House Bill 17 that would prohibit cities and counties from creating new business regulations. ‘I think it goes too far as someone who served in local government,’ Fischer said.” Read Florida mayors rail against legislative threats to home rule
The Ocala Star Banner Editorial Board writes – “As for the minimum flows and levels, which arrived 44 years after they were first mandated by the Florida Legislature, the water district said the springs and river, which have lost a third of their water flow over the past half century, can withstand another 6 percent reduction…It was an incredible assertion, given that the water managers also said that by 2025 the springs’ MFL will likely reach the point of ‘significant harm’ to the ecosystem…If the district knows water levels are going to reach a destructively low level within a decade, why would it proceed with business as usual, only to have to implement a multimillion-dollar ‘protection strategy’ down the road?...Of course, the answer…is the water district, all the water districts, are in the business of not only protecting Florida’s water resources, but also ensuring that those…resources are available for new growth…That is why whenever water managers run into a ecological roadblock it seems they invariably come up with ‘a new model’ for calculating water supply, spring flows or public consumption.” Read A water deficit, a trust deficit
Kent Wimmer writes for the Pensacola News Journal – “[T]he Santa Rosa County Board of County Commissioners rejected a $150,000 grant from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) to implement a BearWise safety program…It’s hard to understand why the Commission rejected these grant funds that it applied for and had been awarded by the FWC in the full amount the County requested…This grant and pledged matching county monies would have provided funding to offset the cost of purchasing as many as 4,000 bear resistant trash cans for county residents. This shortsighted rejection is especially troubling considering the recent incident…in which a bear injured a Santa Rosa County resident and his dog. It is also troubling considering that the FWC has received more bear-related nuisance calls over the past year from Santa Rosa County residents than from any other county in Florida. Conflicts between Florida black bears and people just aren’t going to go away without intervention…In addition to destroying the female bear responsible for the injury to the Santa Rosa County resident and his dog…the FWC relocated three 12-month yearlings…Removing or killing these bears will not make this problem go away. Other bears will move in to reap the rewards of an easy meal. Defenders of Wildlife urges the County Commission to begin the multi-year process of working with its residents and the FWC to secure all bear attractants, including trash cans, so bears and people can safely coexist in Santa Rosa County.” Read Rejecting BearWise grant foolish
Isadora Rangel reports for the TC Palm – “State Rep. Matthew Caldwell said…finishing projects in the works should take priority over building a $2.4 billion reservoir south of the lake, as Negron wants. Once water managers know how much water they can keep out of Lake O…they’ll know how much more storage they need to the south and whether they need to buy additional land to complement acres the state already owns, he said…Caldwell and the water district…showed (Treasure Coast Newspapers) how ongoing efforts to restore the (Kissimmee) river cleans and reduces the speed with which water enters the lake and the magnitude of projects designed to clean Everglades-bound water. Caldwell cautioned about Negron’s push to change that timeline, saying it already has taken the state and federal government longer than expected to work on current projects…Changing the focus to a southern reservoir will delay progress even more, Caldwell said.” Read Caldwell: Don’t let Lake Okeechobee reservoir disrupt Everglades progress
Katrina Elsken reports for Okeechobee News – “About 1,000 Lake Okeechobee area residents gathered at Pahokee High School on March 17 for a meeting with Florida Senate President Joe Negron…With the school auditorium filled to capacity, more than half of those gathered waited outside, where they signed petitions against Senate Bill 10, and held signs protesting the legislation they believe could end their way of life by turning 60,000 acres of production farmland into a reservoir… ‘The jobs that are being proposed (in SB 10) are not permanent jobs. And what happens to folks who aren’t qualified?’ [Janet Taylor] asked… ‘Ideas are a work in progress. That is why there are amendments. The bill is now in the Appropriations Committee where there will be changes,’ [Senate President Negron] said. [He] said he is open to the ideas of using land already in state ownership, of swapping land in state ownership for other land for the reservoir…[He] said all of the scientists who testified at the Senate hearings said the state needs some additional water storage south of the lake. ‘The only question is when and where to do it,’ he said.” Read Lake Okeechobee area residents protest SB 10
Steve Patterson reports for The Florida Times Union – “To applause from advocates and local officials, lawmakers representing Clay and Putnam counties touted legislation…that would help replenish shrunken lakes around Keystone Heights by piping water from flood-prone Black Creek…The project is part of a regional water supply plan that governing boards for the St. Johns and Suwannee River water management districts approved in January, but the work hasn’t been funded yet…Bradley has sponsored…SB 234, to earmark $35 million yearly from [the Land Acquisition Trust Fund] to be used for St. Johns or Keystone projects. The Black Creek pipeline would be paid for through that money. A companion bill, HB 847, was filed in the House…by Rep. Bobby Payne…The plan involves installing equipment to capture up to 10 million gallons of water daily from Black Creek…when the creek rises above certain levels…A pipeline…would move the water to near Lake Magnolia in the Florida National Guard’s camp Blanding. An early plan envisions the water filtering through a receiving field there and entering Alligator Creek, which connects a chain of lakes around Keystone Heights…The project should deliver help to both the lakes and the aquifer, said Vivian Katz, president of the nonprofit Save Our Lakes Organization that residents formed around 2000.” Read Funding bills for Keystone water project touted to help lakes, drinking water supplies
A.G. Gancarski reports for Florida Politics – “As a child, (Sen.) Bradley swam in one of [the] Keystone Lakes: Lake Brooklyn, where the senator had some of his best childhood memories… ‘Every time I came out here, it broke my heart,’ Bradley said. ‘The lakes have left us.’ The senator…chairs the Appropriations Subcommittee on the Environment and Natural Resources, and sits as the vice-chair on the Environmental Preservation and Conservation committee. Bradley…tops his priority list this Legislative Session with Senate Bill 234…The bill [is] currently working its way through committees in the Florida Senate (and stalled out in the Florida House, without even a committee hearing yet …Rep. Payne…is ‘working’ the committees, he told us. And working with his Clay colleague…Appropriations will agenda the Senate version ‘soon,’ Bradley said, and Chairman Jack Latvala and Bradley have ‘talked extensively about the bill and this issue, and he has indicated support for what we’re trying to accomplish.’” Read Rob Bradley: ‘The lakes have left us’
The Tampa Bay Times Editorial Board writes – “Polluted air and water recognize no political boundaries, which is why the federal government plays a key role in protecting the nation’s natural resources. Yet the Trump administration would shift much of that responsibility to the states, which would be bad for Floridians. This state’s environmental protection efforts have been eviscerated under Gov. Rick Scott, and Floridians depend on help from Washington to make up for Tallahassee’s failures…Scott’s budget proposal for next year would reduce the DEP staff by another 38 people.” Read Shifting EPA’s role to states would be bad for Florida
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Upcoming Environmental Events
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.
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April 12, 12:45 pm – Attend The Villages Environmental Discussions Group meeting at the Belvedere Library community room in The Villages. Presenters include Lloyd Singleton, UF/IFAS Sumter County Extension Agent; Matt Keene, award-winning filmmaker, journalist, and St Johns Riverkeeper 2015 Advocate of the Year; and Jamie Letendre, FDEP Environmental Specialist of St. Martins Marsh & Big Bend Seagrasses Aquatic Preserves. Matt Keened will speak about the Rodman Dam. For more information and to RSVP, email email@example.com.
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