FCC News Brief - March 28, 2017

FWC shares – “The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has verified the presence of at least two panther kittens north of the Caloosahatchee river in southwest Florida. These kittens are presumed to be the offspring of the first wild female panther documented north of the river since 1973. ‘This is good news for Florida panther conservation,’ said Kipp Frohlich, deputy director for the FWC’s Division of Habitat and Species Conservation. ‘Until now, we only had evidence of panthers breeding south of the Caloosahatchee. These pictures of a female with kittens indicate there are now panthers breeding north of the river.’…Darrell Land, FWC panther team leader [said,] ‘For many years, the Caloosahatchee River has appeared to be a major obstacle to northward movement of female panthers. This verification of kittens with a female demonstrates panthers can expand their breeding territory across the river naturally.’” Read FWC documents panther kittens north of Caloosahatchee River

Craig Pittman reports for the Tampa Bay Times – “To Tampa nature photographer Carlton Ward Jr., who has spearheaded a drive to create a statewide “Florida Wildlife Corridor,” the discovery of the (panther) kittens (north of the Caloosahatchee River) is ‘a call to action to invest in land protection so the panthers can continue their pathway northward.’ Babcock Ranch was a stop along the corridor path when Ward and like-minded colleagues traveled the length of the Florida peninsula marking how undeveloped land could link together. ‘I’ve seen firsthand that there is plenty of good panther habitat throughout the Florida peninsula and beyond,’ he said. If the state can ensure rural ranchland stays undeveloped, then a wildlife corridor ‘will be the path of the panther.’” Read Florida panther kittens found north of Caloosahatchee River for first time in decades

Isadora Rangel reports for the TC Palm – “A Brevard County lawmaker watered down his bill to crack down on septic tanks that pollute waterways…to allay concerns about affecting home sales and burdening home sellers. House Bill 285 would have mandated septic tank inspections as part of real estate transactions, but…Rep. Randy Fine changed it to a more “buyer beware” bill that requires: - Sellers to tell buyers if the property has a septic system, but they wouldn’t have to disclose any issues with it. – Buyers to sign a form that states, among other things, septic tanks should be inspected and pumped out every three to five years because they can contribute to nutrient and fecal coliform bacteria in groundwater, but inspections would be voluntary. - Department of Health to create a single statewide database and map of existing septic systems broken down by county…This is the second time he weakened his bill after getting pushback from other lawmakers and the real estate industry…Audubon Florida accepted the compromise, while Sierra Club lobbyist David Cullen said it ‘guts the bill.’ Some lawmakers weren’t happy with the new bill but voted for it anyway.” Read Florida House waters down septic tank inspections bill

Mary Ellen Klas reports for the Miami Herald – “The Florida House Subcommittee on Energy and Utilities…will hear the proposal sought by Florida Power & Light to allow the company to expand its rate base by charging customers for investments in natural gas fracking operations in other states. It’s the only bill on the agenda for the committee’s three-hour time slot and its sudden appearance on the committee calendar surprised even the committee’s chair, Rep. Kathleen Peters…who had been told by House leaders that the bill was not going to get a hearing…Rep. Jose Felix Diaz,…the chairman of the Commerce Committee which will hear the bill if it’s approved – as expected – by the subcommittee, also deflected responsibility for putting the industry-sought bill on the agenda…[If the bill passes, it] would…be the first time in the nation that a utility company would be allowed to shift the risk of an exploratory drilling to customers, instead of shareholders, without determining whether the investment is prudent… ‘We’ve been inundated with emails – all against the bill,’ Peters said…She said she considers the bill a short-sighted attempt by utility companies to expand their rate base before photovoltaic solar threatens the current business model…The bill overturns a court ruling that rejected FPL’s attempt to get the fracking investment approved by the Florida Public Service Commission.” Read FPL’s fracking bill returns Tuesday as the only bill on the House committee agenda

Susan Salisbury reports for the Palm Beach Post – “All landowners of more than 2,500 acres farmland in the Everglades Agricultural Area reaffirmed Monday that they do not want to sell their land, and called for Senate President Joe Negron…to reveal the identities of the willing sellers he mentioned in a March 17 meeting at Pahokee High School…Senate spokeswoman Katie Betta said…Negron has stated he is looking at various options such as land that is already owned by the state…Betta said the bill does not call for eminent domain, and Negron has tried to stress that.” Read EAA landowners ask Negron to reveal landowners who are willing to sell

Katie Pohlman reports for The Gainesville Sun – “Ford and…Segal-Wright…climbed about 250 feet into a section of the Sabal Trail Pipeline…as a form of civil disobedience…[They] were charged with grand theft over $20,000, trespassing on a construction site and criminal mischief. Ford also was charged with resisting an officer without violence… ‘You can stand on the side of the road and hold a sign all day long, but well-behaved movements don’t make history,’ Segal-Wright said.” Read Sabal Trail protesters’ court dates to be set Tuesday

Bruce Ritchie reports for Politico Florida – “Sen. Bill Nelson and 16 members of Florida’s congressional delegation, including Republicans and Democrats, are urging the Trump administration to keep the eastern Gulf of Mexico off limits to oil and gas drilling…Among those not signing the letter were U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio…and Reps. Matt Gaetz…and Neal Dunn…A Dunn spokeswoman said the congressman is leading a separate effort on the issue with a letter that she expects to be sent later Friday. On Jan. 31, the Florida Defense Support Task Force quietly issued a paper on the Gulf drilling issue. State Rep. Clay Ingram…who is the task force chairman, called on Florida to ‘maintain a united front in supporting an extension of the current moratorium on drilling’ east of the ‘military mission line’ in the eastern Gulf.” Read Nelson, congressional members urge Trump administration against oil drilling off Florida

David Smiley reports for the Miami Herald – “Two-term mayor (of Miami, Tomas Regalado)…wants to use property tax dollars to fund $100 million in projects protecting the city from sea-level rise- a problem he acknowledges Miami has been slow to address. He hopes to give voters a change to approve a bond referendum as they head to the polls to name his successor…In a speech…Regaldo placed an emphasis on investing in flood prevention, an effort that has already stalled once. Last year, commissioners shot down his administration’s proposal to place a $275 million bond referendum on the presidential ballot, calling the idea half-baked. They said the list of projects was slapped together without much thought or public input – a problem that some are still concerned about…Miami City Manager Daniel Alfonso said the city plans to begin neighborhood meetings next month and expects to bring a comprehensive package to commissioners by July.” Read Climate change ‘the biggest challenge the city of Miami will ever face,’ mayor says





From Our Readers

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Protect Weeki Wachee Springs; Stop the 7 Diamonds Mine in Pasco County

Prevent the Loss of One of Florida’s Most Popular National Wildlife Refuges

Tell Congress to Stop Sabal Trail

Stop New Phosphate Strip Mining in Florida

Stop the Division of Herky Huffman/Bull Creek WMA 2016

Now or Neverglades Declaration

Ask the SFWMD to deny the permit for the Crosstown Parkway that cuts through TWO State Preserves

Save the Econlockhatchee River!

Ask County Commissions to Pass Bear-Friendly Trash Ordinances

Stop the Port Canaveral Rail Extension Project

Ask the USACE to reject Harbor Sound application to fill wetlands

Paynes Prairie in danger

Save the Biggest Wetland Mitigation Bank in the U . S . A . from Development

Deny Beruff’s Mitigation Bank Permit

Help Florida Become a “Pay for Shade” state




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 nkost@tampabay.rr.com.

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 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 resourcewisdom@gmail.com.

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. To watch a promotional video, 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 21, 9:30 am – Attend a celebration of Sierra Club Founder John Muir’s Birthday in Brooksville. There will be a guided trail walk and a picnic luncheon featuring Jerry Cowling as John Muir. For more information and to RSVP, click here.

April 22, 7:30 am – Attend Clermont Earth Day & Lake Clean-Up 2017 at the Lake Hiawatha Preserve (450 N. 12 St./SR 561) (West of the roundabout) in Clermont. To register for the Lake Clean Up, click here. Several prizes will be given to volunteers for most weight, youngest participant, oldest participant, oddest object found, etc. Pre-registrants will be given T-shirts. After the clean up, there will be environmental education, an earth kids zone, DJ music and entertainment, food vendors, prizes, and more! For more information, email mrivera@clermontfl.org or call (352) 394 – 3500.

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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