Bruce Ritchie reports for Politico Florida – “Environmentalists are finding a glimmer of hope for conservation lands funding from comments this week by a key House committee chairman. Rep. Matt Caldwell… told POLITICO Florida he’s pushing for funding for the Florida Forever land-buying program in the last two weeks of the legislative session, which ends May 5. The House version of the 2017-18 state budget has no funding for land-buying or conservation easements… Florida Forever… in recent years has received only 5 percent of its previous funding… Environmentalists had higher hopes for funding going into this year’s legislative session with leaders in the Senate that were friendly to the program. But the Senate also has been focused on spending for Everglades restoration, a priority of Senate President Joe Negron. House Speaker Richard Corcoran has suggested the state owns enough land already and has questioned whether it is being managed well… Caldwell said he’s always thought the Florida Forever program had value but he’s been trying to develop data about the state’s “conservation profile” to make the case to those who are skeptical. He also said the session should be a “wake-up call” to advocates. ‘You can’t just walk into the process – it’s not 25 years ago,’ he said. ‘We have acquired millions of acres of land. So you are going to have a higher bar, a higher threshold to get over.’” Read House chairman says he’s pushing for conservation funding
Isadora Rangel reports for the TC Palm – “A Fort Myers lawmaker wants the state to commit more money for environmental land preservation…Caldwell also is pushing a bill to change how money is distributed within Florida Forever to prioritize land acquisition over other purposes, such as water infrastructure projects and land management… [He] said the bill ensures Florida Forever meets the intent of a 2014 constitutional amendment voters passed to set aside money for land acquisition… Environmentalists praised Caldwell’s efforts… but raised some concerns… They… urged lawmakers to put more money into Florida Forever to be able to achieve the bill’s purpose. Ryan Smart, of 1000 Friends of Florida,… said there are 300,000 acres on the [Rural and Family Lands] waiting list compared with 2 million acres on Florida Forever’s priority list. ‘We think since the lion’s share of the land is on the Florida Forever list, the lion’s share of the funding should go to the Florida Forever list,’ Smart said.” Read Rep. Matt Caldwell seeks more land conservation funds under Florida Forever
The Miami Herald Editorial Board writes – “As environmentalists, water-dependent businesses, economists and tourists know, so much depends upon the health of the River of Grass, including South Floridian’s access to clean water, the state’s economic vitality, indeed, the well-being of the state itself… Florida desperately needs a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee. For too long, the state has blithely allowed water released from the lake to flow to the coasts, and out to sea, an unconscionable waste of this precious resource. Just as bad, pollutants in that water have created massive algae blooms…, threatening to ruin the entire ecosystem around Lake O and the Everglades… The Senate has done its job… Now, House lawmakers, and the governor, must do theirs.” Read Lawmakers in Florida House shouldn’t squander best chance yet to help the Everglades
Jenny Staletovich reports for the Miami Herald – “Something is wrong in… Biscayne Bay… Nearly half the basin’s manatee grass has died… And on windy days, or with every passing Cigarette boat, mud swirls up from the bottom. It’s essentially a dust bowl, only underwater… Beginning in about 2005, after twin hurricanes pounded South Florida, problems started popping up all over: a persistent algae bloom in the central section…; disappearing coral and sponges killed off by a toxic blue-green bloom at the… southern end; and shrinking fish populations just about everywhere… [I]t could be the usual suspects… : aging leaky septic systems, water flowing from dirty canals filled with high levels of nutrients…; or periods of drought followed by heavy rain that upset salinity. The biggest new X factor… could be the increased pumping of untreated stormwater from Miami Beach. The city has installed a massive pumping system… [that] does nothing to treat nutrients like… human waste from… sewer pipes… The South Florida Water Management District, amid ongoing budget cuts, eliminated about 30 percent of the bay’s monitoring stations in 2014… A push this year by Senate President Joe Negron [for a southern reservoir]… doesn’t promise much water or help for the southern end of the Everglades system – particularly for Biscayne Bay… The worry, said Markley (former Miami-Dade County natural resource division chief), is that because so much of the coast surrounding the bay has been developed, state and federal environmental agencies may consider problems – like treating stormwater – too expensive or difficult to fix.” Read Seagrass keeps dying in Biscayne Bay. Is it getting too sick to recover?
Brian Yablonski writes for the Tampa Bay Times – “We have a growing population of over 20 million residents and 100 million visitors a year – a lot of activity within 58,000 square miles of land and 1,350 miles of coastline. Yet Florida’s wildlife continues to rebound and recover, with major conservation successes for a number of key species. The traditional view is to see growth and wildlife conservation in conflict – as population grows, wildlife declines. Yet Florida is showing they can thrive together… Foremost, it helps that people appreciate what makes Florida beautiful and unique, and want to keep it that way. That is a credit to the conservation ethic of Floridians and visitors, and the many partnerships among governmental and nongovernmental organizations. Private landowners, including ranchers, conserve wildlife habitat, and Florida in turn supports its private landowners. Robust public lands and waterways… also provide valuable protected habitat. Engaged citizens encourage laws and programs like Florida Forever and restoration of the Everglades ecosystem.” Read A positive look at wildlife conservation in Florida
Judith Bays writes for the Sun Sentinel – “The governmental powers that be are already hollering about water rationing… because of low water supply. I will not ration any water…. What is not understandable is that the water is low and the people in power want to build more apartment homes, single family homes, a giant shopping mall with water parks, etc. Where is all this water supposed to come from? Not from me. If water is… low, stop building… ” Read Florida’s residents’ water supply already too taxed
CBS New York reports – “Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg urged world leaders not to follow President Donald Trump’s lead on climate change… Bloomberg said he believed the U.S. would hit [the Paris] goal regardless of what Trump does because of leadership at the state level and market forces already at play in the private sector. ‘Washington won’t determine the fate of our ability to meet our Paris commitment,’ he said… ‘And what a tragedy it would be if the failure to understand that led to an unraveling of the agreement…’… Saying that coal miners ‘have paid a terrible price,’ Boomberg also disclosed… plans to donate $3 million to organizations that help unemployed miners and their communities find new economic opportunities.” Read Bloomberg to World Leaders: Ignore Trump’s Ideas on Climate Change
Charles Roop reports for WCTV – “Over 4,000 people marched in Tallahassee Saturday afternoon, and all in the name of science. It was one of at least 600 satellite marches worldwide…” Read Thousands march for science in Tallahassee
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