The Daytona Beach News Journal Editorial Board writes – “Gemini Springs is in trouble, and has been for years. Volusia County bought the park that contains the springs… in 1994, and was forced to close its popular swimming hole just seven years later due to high counts of nasty bacteria that could endanger human health. Swimming hasn’t been permitted since… This week, the St. Johns River Water Management District… [recommended] official “protections” that are so weak the district may as well have not bothered… The… district, like others around the state, dragged its heels on setting [MFLs] at many of the… springs in the area – with the clear understanding that once minimal flow rates were set, springs would be officially competing for water with thousands of new homes surrounded by gleaming green lawns… Local environmentalists say… one of the problems at Gemini Springs [is] spring flow eventually became too weak to flush out… pollutants… [D]istrict officials suggest that Gemini Springs could make do with even less fresh-water flow – 5 percent less than todays’ flow rate, 15 percent less than its natural flow... Only when that threshold is reached, and Gemini further degraded, would the district move on a plan to protect the spring’s flow… If a house is a little bit on fire, should a fire department walk away until 5 percent more goes up in flames?... [T]he St. Johns board approved additional reductions in the flow of Florida’s iconic Silver Springs before any protective action would be taken… [T]he Southwest Florida Water Management District voted to let Rainbow Springs decline by 2.5 percent… If the springs are in trouble, so is the aquifer that supplies them… Residents should make it clear that they expect better protections for these uniquely Floridian treasures. And the district’s governing board should send the Gemini Springs plan back for revisions that reflect a sense of urgency, instead of… a callous disregard for the spring’s current plight.” Read Gemini Springs deserves better and Take Action
Fred Hiers reports for the Ocala Star Banner – “While the DEP may be content to operate a passive [Silver Springs State Park] with minimal economic impact, (Marion County Commission Chairman) Zalak wants more. The best answer, he said, would be a land swap in which the county would give the DEP 220 acres it owns along rural County Road 314… and, in exchange, the DEP would give the county 45 acres that wrap around the outer edge on three sides of the park… Zalak wants the property developed in public-private partnerships. Think restaurants, shops and perhaps a hotel. The goal is to help businesses in the area, increase attendance at the park, and give visitors a reason to stay a few days instead of just a few hours… Environmentalist Guy Marwick, of the Felburn Foundation, said there is no reason for the land swap. Marwick helped broker a 4,500-acre deal in which Florida purchased the land near the spring… ‘If private enterprise wants to build, they already own two corners that surround the park,’ he said… ‘… You just don’t steal state land for private profit,’ Marwick said. ‘There’s a reason they don’t give up. It’s greed.’… ‘Whoever is behind this move needs to consider the next time they’re up for election,’ Marwick said. ‘This is not going to happen.’” Read Revitalizing Silver Springs State Park
Craig Pittman reports for the Tampa Bay Times – “Florida will not hold another bear hunt until at least 2019… A motion to hold a hunt this year failed on a 4-3 vote. Then the commissioners voted unanimously to ask their staff to update the agency’s bear management plan, including a possible hunt, two years from now. The votes came amid the continued uproar caused by the decision in 2015 to approve Florida’s first bear hunt in 21 years… ‘Bears are in the middle of an expansion that’s likely to continue,’ the commission’s top bear expert, Thomas Eason, told the commissioners… ‘The science is absolutely rock solid to support a sustainable bear hunt,’ Wiley (FWC Executive Director) said. But without more public support, ‘we’re not ready to go back into another hunting season.’ Commissioner Liesa Priddy… has backed a hunt every year and even bought a bear hunting license in 2015. She made the motion to have the commission staff report back with a proposed quota for hunters to kill in each region where bears live… The leading opponent once again was Commissioner Ronald “Alligator Ron” Bergeron, who was the lone no vote against the 2015 hunt and led the opposition in 2016.” Read No new Florida bear hunts until 2019, wildlife commission says, citing public opinion
Ledyard King reports for USA Today – “Gov. Rick Scott said… that President Donald Trump has promised the federal government will provide the money to help the state fully upgrade the Herbert Hoover Dike by 2022… Scott did not discuss specific dollar amounts… But a senior U.S. Army Corps of Engineers official [said] that speeding up completion of the project from its scheduled target date of 2025 to 2022 would require $800 million this year. If the state legislature approves Scott’s request for $200 million in this year’s budget…, the federal share would presumably be around $600 million to meet the 2022 target… Scott believes the repairs will allow the lake to hold more water, thereby reducing the need for discharges to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers… But the Corps… maintains the repairs are intended to protect surrounding communities from a potential breach and won’t necessarily allow more water to be stored. The corps plans to review when and how much water it discharges in 2022.” Read Gov. Scott: Trump commits to funding upgrades to Herbert Hoover Dike
Brian Bowden reports for Keys News – “Whether or not a contested billion-dollar water storage plan would be heard by the state House of Representatives before the end of the legislative session [is] still up in the air… The Senate-approved version of the bill spells out the building of a sizable southern reservoir on 14,000 acres of land currently leased by the state to Florida Crystals. It would be 14 feet deep and able to hold 240,000 acre-feet of water, or roughly 100 billion gallons, from Lake Okeechobee. The bill also includes the possible use of an adjacent stormwater treatment reservoir that could increase the size to 360,000 acre-feet if needed… Aside from a reservoir, the new bill spells out securities for Glades County residents…” Read Water bill awaits House action
Katie Atkins reports for FL Keys News – “SB 230 and HB 587 propose $600,000 over two years for the state Department of Environmental Protection a pilot program to try to minimize [the threat of invasive species] to the environment… SB 230 is now in the Senate Committee on Appropriations after moving through two environmental subcommittees with unanimous approval. HB 587 [has moved through all of its committees].” Read Florida bills propose teams of lionfish hunters
Anne Lindberg reports for the Tampa Bay Reporter – “U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor joined elected officials and environmental activists to oppose elimination of the Tampa Bay Estuary program, clean water, clean air and NOAA coastal resource initiatives under the proposed federal budget.” Read Castor: Trump’s Budget Threatens Florida’s Environment, Economy
Business Insider reports – “Many of the effects of climate change are irreversible. Sea levels have been rising at a greater rate year after year, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates they could rise by another meter or more by the end of this century. As National Geographic showed us in 2013, sea levels would rise by 216 feet if all the land ice on the planet were to melt. This would dramatically reshape the continents and drown many of the world’s major cities.” Read Animated map of what Earth would look like if all the ice melted
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