Tyler Treadway reports for the TC Palm – “Environmentalists are…concerned about aspects of the draft management plan for [Savannas Preserve State Park] that would allow for cattle grazing and timber harvesting… ‘The primary objective is not to raise revenue, it’s to restore the park,’ said Jason Mahon, a spokesman for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection…Sine Murray, chief of park planning, said the grazing would…help restore the land because cattle would control invasive plant species. ‘Cattle don’t know a native plant from a nonnative,’ replied Diane Goldberg of…the St. Lucie County chapter of the Audubon Society…Comments will be taken until March 15…” Read Tree harvesting, cattle grazing at Savannas Preserve State Park
Susan Salisbury reports for the Palm Beach Post – “[T]he Everglades Foundation released a 20-page study on the economic benefits of two…[reservoirs]. Both of the proposed reservoirs in the…study are already included in the [CERP], but are not yet funded. The study…concludes that a proposed 360,000-acre foot South Reservoir would have an $18.5 billion impact on property values…Its construction would provide more than 39,000 jobs…[W]ater that would be collected in the reservoir would be worth an estimated $1.5 billion…Florida Sugarcane Farmers reacted quickly to [the] study calling it ‘fake economics.’ The study does not consider the economic impact on the Everglades Agricultural Area…[T]he EAA includes some of the nation’s most productive sugar cane and vegetable fields…The…study follows last Thursday’s release of a James Madison Institute report…that found the removal of 60,000 acres of productive farmland…would result in a negative economic impact of $695 million and the loss of 4,148 jobs statewide.” Read Everglades Foundation: Restoration project would have $20 billion impact
Lance Dixon reports for the Miami Herald – “A judge has upheld Coral Gables’ ban on Styrofoam products, ruling that a new state law preventing the city from enforcing the ban was unconstitutional…The Florida Retail Federation filed a lawsuit…to keep the city from enforcing the ban, arguing that the city’s ordinance was unlawful and the city’s efforts to backdate approval of the ban was ‘illegal gamesmanship.’…In a related matter…, commissioners approved a resolution opposing another bill pending in the Legislature that would keep municipalities, counties and other local governments from regulating businesses unless they have been given specific approval from the Legislature.” Court upholds Coral Gables’ Styrofoam ban
Tory Perfetti and Stephen Smith write for the Tampa Bay Times – “Last year, Florida voters spoke loud and clear at the ballot box about solar energy not once, but twice…Amendment 4, which garnered an overwhelming 73 percent “yes” vote…will mean that going solar no longer raises property taxes…This free-market principle will lower property taxes, lower power bills, provide more energy independence and create local jobs that can’t be outsourced. It’s a win-win and is supported by a broad coalition that spans the political spectrum and business community. The next step is for the Legislature to honor the will of the voters and implement Amendment 4…without any additions that would weaken the amendment’s intent.” Read The voters have spoken loudly for Sunshine State solar power
Craig Pittman reports for the Tampa Bay Times – “The liquid heart of Florida is in trouble. It’s causing problems for both coasts. And the two houses of the Legislature have very different ideas about how to fix the problem…Negron’s solution is Senate Bill 10…Because it’s backed by Negron,…it’s almost certain to pass [the Senate]…The sugar growers whose land might be the target of such a buyout are not happy about Negron’s plan…The towns south of the lake, where Big Sugar is their Big Employer, have launched their own…campaign, called “Glades Lives Matter,” to combat the reservoir idea. They prefer Senate Bill 816 filed by Sen. David Simmons…that calls for the state to take over operation of Lake Okeechobee – and possibly the cost of fixing the dike. His bill also calls for raising the berm another 2 feet so the lake can hold a lot more water…Fuller (of the Florida Wildlife Federation) pointed out that the lake has been identified as the source of last year’s toxic algae bloom. Increasing the amount of water held in it, he said, would do nothing to prevent a reoccurrence, nor would it prevent the government from eventually flushing that mixture out to the the estuaries the way it does now. Simmons’ bill may be doomed anyway. Negron controls the Senate, and so far SB816 hasn’t been scheduled for a committee vote…Conversely, [Rep. Matt Caldwell] wants [the reservoir] built after most of the other projects in the [CERP] are built…Caldwell [likes] the Simmons bill…” Read For a Better Florida: Liquid heart of Florida is in trouble and Legislature split on what to do
Gary White and Suzie Schottelkotte report for News Chief – “The City Commission in Davenport voted 3-2…to join other cities in an agreement intended to ensure water supplies through 2035…Fort Meade commissioners did the same thing by a unanimous vote…The cooperative emerged after studies determined permitted amounts for water use in Polk County exceed the sustainable supply. As a result, Swiftmud, which covers most of Polk County, has said it will not issue any increases in groundwater permits. The cooperative, in discussions with Polk County and 15 cities, developed proposals for new water sources. The first phase of the project will cost $23 million, and the cost was divided among the municipalities and the water district based on current consumption levels…Development Services Director April Brown warned that if Davenport does not secure alternative water supplies, the city won’t be able to approve any further development and would have to implement strict conservation measures.” Read Davenport, Fort Meade join regional water plan
Coral Davenport reports for the New York Times - “President Trump is expected to sign an executive order on Tuesday aimed at rolling back one of former President…Obama’s major environmental regulations to protect American waterways…The order will…direct…Pruitt to begin the complicated legal process of rewriting the 2015 rule known as Waters of the United States (WOTUS). But that effort could take longer than a single presidential term…In the coming week,…Trump is also expected to sign [an]…order instructing…Pruitt to begin the process of withdrawing and revising…Obama’s signature 2015 climate-change regulation…[WOTUS] has yet to be put into effect. A federal court delayed it as judges review the legal challenges against it…To follow the law,…Pruitt will have to withdraw [WOTUS] and craft a new version of the rule, along with a justification as to why it would be legally superior to the earlier one. That would be subject to a public comment period before it is finalized, and it could face new lawsuits afterward…[T]he fight…is expected to end up in front of the Supreme Court…Trump’s order asks [Pruitt] to consider a 2006 review of [WOTUS] that was written by Antonin Scalia…” Read Trump Plan to Begin E.P.A. Rollback with Order on Clean Water
John Cassani reports for News Press – “Representative Matt Gaetz, R-Florida, has introduced a bill in Congress that would abolish the EPA…and send that authority…to the states. Yet Florida has and continues to struggle with the growing dilemma of declining water quality and is not making overall progress in reversing that trend. In 2008, Florida had 1,000 miles of its rivers, 350,000 acres of lakes and 900 square miles of its vital estuaries impaired by nutrient pollution…The latest DEP map illustrating the spatial scope of verified impaired water bodies or watersheds…depicts the problem in Florida…[N]o resident in Florida lives more than about 20 miles from a verified impairment…Interestingly, Gaetz’ Congressional district…has one of the highest concentrations of verified impaired water bodies in the state…” Read Eliminating EPA could have dire consequences
From Our Readers
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Upcoming Environmental Events
March 8, 12:45 pm – Attend the Villages Environmental Discussions Group Meeting at the Belvedere Library in The Villages, FL. Guest speakers will include Laura Seckbach Finn, the founder of Fly By Night, Inc., and Nigel Rudolph, from the Florida Public Archaeology Network. Laura will focus on Florida bats and Nigel will discuss the history and culture of the Crystal River. For more information and to RSVP, contact email@example.com
March 7-9 – Attend FGCU’s Biodiversity Conference in Fort Myers. For more information and to register, click here.
March 10, 7:30 PM – Attend the Panthers vs. Wild Hockey game and support conservation efforts for the Florida panther. To buy your tickets, click here.
March 14, 9:00 AM – Participate in Florida Coasts & Ocean Advocacy Day at the Florida Capitol in Tallahassee. Join the Surfrider Foundation and Florida Coastal & Ocean Coalition in sharing your support for our ocean and beaches with your legislators! Advocate for clean water, healthy beaches, and an end to plastic pollution. For more information, 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.
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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