The Herald Tribune Editorial Board writes – “[T]he proposed budget in the House of Representatives allocates no revenue to [Florida Forever], while the Senate has offered $22 million (for land conservation). Both figures are ridiculous on multiple counts: First and foremost, the proposals overtly break a social contract between the Legislature and voters. In the 2014 general election, 75 percent of voters supported Amendment 1, an addition to the Florida Constitution…During the public debate over the amendment, it was clear that the intent of the citizen proponents who got the measure on the ballot was to re-establish consistent funding of Florida Forever…[B]efore the Great Recession, Florida allocated hundreds of millions of dollars each year toward Florida Forever or its predecessor, Preservation 2000. But, since the passage of Amendment 1, funding for Florida Forever has fallen far short. The Legislature has not only underfunded according to historic standards, it hasn’t even come close to meeting the 33 percent standard…One of the advantages of Florida Forever is that its acquisitions face rigorous examination by scientists…Acquisitions can occur through outright, “fee-simple” purchase or through the purchase of conservation easements designed to protect the land in perpetuity while allowing it to remain in private ownership…Valuable lands are being lost to development throughout Florida, and many of the acquired lands help preserve and store water that will be needed to serve current and future residents. The Legislature…should fund Florida Forever.” Read Legislature should fund Florida Forever
Arek Sarkissian reports for the Naples Daily News – “A bill that would ban fracking in Florida is dead this year, with the state House and Senate unwilling to agree on whether a scientific study is needed before considering an all-out prohibition. House bill sponsor Rep. Mike Miller…said he still thinks the state should have some sort of a fracking ban…He said House leadership would not let his bill move forward without the study…There is no chance the bill could be revived this session, he said…House Majority Leader Ray Rodrigues thinks the study would justify why property owners could not file a claim under the Bert J. Harris Jr. Private Property Rights Protection Act…Young said she had vetted the bill and determined the rights of property owners would not be violated. ‘The bill doesn’t stop property owners from accessing those minerals; it just forecloses one method of doing so,’ Young said.” Read Florida legislators’ stalemate on study kills fracking ban bill
Jenny Staletovich reports for the Miami Herald – “The manatee…is officially no longer an endangered species. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service [FWS] announced…that the manatee will instead be designated “threatened”… ‘The Florida manatee population has continued to increase. We see that in the surveys done every winter,’ Larry Williams, the [FWS] state supervisor, said…But environmental groups argue the rebound comes along with a growing number of manatee deaths, particularly from boat strikes, and that the manatee’s fate remains uncertain. There is, for instance, a growing trend by manatees to huddle during cooler winter months in artificial habitats created by power plants. If those shut down, there could be major losses…Defenders of Wildlife also pointed to an analysis it commissioned that found the wildlife agency used outdated population information that failed to reflect deaths between 2009 and 2016.” Read Rebounding Florida manatee no longer an ‘endangered’ species
Defenders of Wildlife shares – “A second female Florida panther has been spotted by trail cameras in new territory north of the Caloosahatchee river, following the first female sighted in November of 2016 and panther kittens confirmed in the area just days ago… ‘This is tremendous news for the Florida panther. These female panthers and kittens…represent a brighter future for the species. This is a national milestone for wildlife conservation history: from just a handful of individuals in 1967, the panther has become a Florida icon and a symbol of successful endangered species recovery efforts.” Read Second Female Florida Panther Enters New Territory
Jenny Staletovich reports for the Miami Herald – “Florida wildlife officers made a grisly discovery aboard a Key West shrimp boat this week: dozens of pairs of dismembered shark fins…, an indication that illegal finning still occurs in Florida waters despite being banned more than 16 years ago. Buying and selling fins…remains legal in most states…Worldwide, shark finning has been blamed for killing up to 73 million sharks every year, with 27,000 tons of fins traded in 2013…In [the] absence (of sharks), smaller fish they eat are increasing, which is decimating populations of shellfish.” Read Butchered shark fins seized from shrimp boat off Key West
Herschel Vinyard Jr. writes for the Lehigh Acres Citizen – “In my previous role as Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection, it wasn’t often I would find consensus on issues involving local water management districts, the state, and federal government. But after years of studying the options to best reduce the occurrence of discharges used to lower Lake Okeechobee, those involved in these three levels of governance all agree that buying additional acres of land south of the lake doesn’t solve the problem. Instead, the South Florida Water Management District, the state, Florida’s Congressional Delegation, and the Florida leaders of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers remain firm on finishing the projects included in the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan…” Read Best to listen to the water experts when it comes to Lake Okeechobee debate
Matt Gaetz writes for the Saint Peters Blog – “Recently, I joined my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in encouraging President Donald Trump to remain on the current path to Everglades restoration.” Read Fix Florida’s Everglades, avoid distraction of costly land buy
Coral Davenport and Alissa J. Rubin report for The New York Times – “President Trump…signed [an]...executive order…to nullify President Barack Obama’s climate change efforts…, effectively ceding American leadership in the international campaign to curb the dangerous heating of the planet. Mr. Trump made clear that the United States had no intention of meeting the commitments that his predecessor had made to curb planet-warming carbon dioxide pollution, turning denials of climate change into national policy…Mr. Trump directed the Environmental Protection Agency to start the complex and lengthy legal process of withdrawing and rewriting the Obama-era Clean Power Plan, which would have closed hundreds of coal-fired power plants, frozen construction of new plants and replaced them with vast new wind and solar farms… ‘There are countless countries ready to step up and deliver on their climate promises and take advantage of Mr. Trump’s short-termism to reap the benefits of the transition to the low-carbon economy,’ said Laurence Tubiana, the chief French negotiator of the 2015 Paris agreement…Kelly Sims Gallagher, an expert on Chinese environmental policy at Tufts University who helped broker the Obama-Xi climate talks [said,] ‘This undoes many years of work building up trust that the U.S. will honor the commitments it makes at the presidential level.’…A coalition of states, including New York and California, has already vowed to fight Mr. Trump… ‘If they want to go back into the rule-making process, we believe they are compelled under law to come up with something close to the Clean Power Plan’ [Attorney General Eric. T Schneiderman of New York] said.” Read Trump Signs Executive Order Unwinding Obama Climate Policies
From Our Readers
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Upcoming Environmental Events
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 email@example.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 firstname.lastname@example.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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