Bob Graham writes for the Tallahassee Democrat - “[A]s Gov. Jeb Bush said when signing the Florida Forever Act into law, it is ‘the most significant…legislation that impacts the citizens of Florida.’…Florida Forever impacts the citizens of Florida by protecting special places in their backyards and enhancing the quality of life in their communities. For example, the Wakulla Springs Protection Zone project south of Tallahassee would protect lands vital to the health of Wakulla Springs, connect Wakulla Springs State Park with the Apalachicola National Forest, preserve important archeological sites and provide areas to camp, hike and hunt…The Florida Conservation Coalition is calling for a minimum of 25 percent of all Amendment 1 funds to be dedicated to land conservation through Florida Forever and Florida Communities Trust and for increased funding for the Rural and Family Lands Protection Program.” Read ‘We the people’ being ignored by elected officials
Bruce Ritchie reports for Politico Florida – “Some members of a House appropriations subcommittee…said they were disappointed by the lack of funding for land conservation in the chamber’s proposed budget. The 2017-18 House budget proposal includes no spending for the Florida Forever land-buying program or agricultural conservation easements… ‘I’m concerned we are moving away from what we have historically done with the Florida Forever program,’ Rep. Ben Diamond…said…And Rep. Rick Roth…said he was concerned about land being developed too quickly in Florida. ‘We need to have planned growth and we also need to keep land in agriculture if at all possible,’ Roth said. ‘So I think conservation easements is a good tool.’ Voters in 2014 approved a ballot measure, called Amendment 1, that provides an estimated $22.3 billion over 20 years for water and land conservation. That measure provides $821.9 million in FY 2017-18, or $601.35 million after debt service, negative carry forward and reserves…Rep. Carlos Trujillo, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, said the state should buy land rather than pay large landowners to conserve it through conservation easements. But when it was pointed out that the House also wasn’t proposing to spend money on land acquisition, he said, ‘We have more than enough land that we can manage.’…Rep. Shawn Harrison…called himself a ‘huge believer’ in the Florida Forever program but was among the subcommittee members praising Albritton for making what they said were tough budget decisions.” Read Mild pushback from some House members on conservation spending
The Orlando Sentinel Editorial Board writes – “[I]n Florida, there have been hopeful signs lately that a bipartisan consensus is re-emerging in favor of aggressively protecting the state’s environment…[A] push to pass a bill banning fracking in Florida has been led by Republicans: Sen. Dana Young…and Rep. Mike Miller…Both the Senate and House versions of the bill have long lists of co-sponsors from both parties…[T]he fracking bill was declared dead…but Miller predicted the bill would be back next year. We hope it returns with an even longer list of Democratic and Republican co-sponsors. The most ambitious environmental initiative of this year’s legislative session, a…reservoir to reduce discharges of polluted water from Lake Okeechobee, has been led by another Republican, Senate President Joe Negron…Our state’s beaches, waterways and underground water supply are priceless assets for the 20 million-plus residents and the 100-million plus visitors a year who drive our economy. Bipartisanship on environmental protection…[is] imperative in Florida.” Read Signs of hope in re-emerging bipartisan consensus on environment
Jenny Staletovich reports for the Miami Herald – “A marine preserve in Biscayne National Park – a key piece of a new management plan 15 years in the making and designed to protect Florida’s dwindling reef tract – may be derailed by a new bill proposed by Florida Sens. Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio…But environmentalists say the rare move by Congress sets a dangerous precedent ‘that would block the National Park Service from doing its legal authority to protect America’s national parks,’ said Caroline McLaughlin, Biscayne program manager for the National Parks Conservation Association. Approved last year, the park plan underwent more than a dozen public hearings and received more than 43,000 comments. Ninety percent of those favored the preserve…[T]he preserve would cover…only a third of the park’s reef tract. Under the plan, fishing in the preserve for all but invasive lionfish would be banned but not other activities, including diving and snorkeling.” Read Florida senators move to undo Biscayne National Park preserve
Kevin Wadlow reports for FL Keys News – “Far, far from the Florida Capitol, fracking foes brought a bit of Florida politics to Key Largo…A demonstration organized by the Food and Water Watch (FWW) non-profit group gathered a few dozen activists around a mock oil derrick put up outside state Rep. Holly Raschein’s office…[FWW] supports House Bill 451, which would create a ban on using fracking technology…Raschein chairs the House Natural Resources and Public Lands Subcommittee, which has not taken a vote on the bill. [FWW] was demonstrating to urge the Republican to schedule a vote on the [bill]…. ‘Proposed fracking in the Everglades would threaten aquifers that are the source of drinking water for millions of South Florida residents as well as the tourism and business communities that rely on clean water,’ said Michelle Allen of [FWW]...Raschein in 2016 voted against a (fracking regulation) bill…but is reviewing the current no-fracking bill…” Read Fracking foes ask Keys state rep to move on drill ban
Kate Bradshaw writes for Creative Loafing – “[C]onservationists are increasingly concerned that (FWC) commissioners who were on the fence (about the bear hunt last year,) but ultimately voted no, may change their minds…If they were to do so, the process of initiating a hunt would likely start at their quarterly meeting, which takes place later this month. A hunt is not specifically included on the April 19-20 meeting agenda, but a discussion of bear population management in general is…The April meeting would be the commission’s one shot at getting the hunt approved in time for the fall because they only meet quarterly and first have to direct Fish and Wildlife staff to create a proposal. Staff would then come back with one at the commission’s July meeting for a first reading, with a second reading taking place in early fall. Hence, Bevan (of the Humane Society of the United States) and others hope the same impassioned group of activists that helped to shut down the 2016 hunt will turn out early to nip a 2017 hunt in the bud…And when advocates cite safety concerns in their arguments for a hunt, Bevan said there’s a simpler, more humane solution: Don’t develop homes in Florida black bear habitat, but if you do, secure your garbage.” Read Bear cares: Environmentalists fear the Florida bear hunt may be on the table (again) later this month
Jeremy Hance writes for The Guardian – “[Climate change] is no longer about just polar bears;… it’s about practically everything – including us…[A] landmark Science study from last year…found that current warming (just one degree Celsius) has already left a discernible mark on 77 of 94 different ecological processes, including species’ genetics, seasonal responses, overall distribution, and even morphology – i.e. physical traits including body size and shape…But the fact that so many species are undergoing genetic changes doesn’t mean they are successfully adapting to our warmer world. ‘In many instances genetic diversity is being lost due to climate change, not just in nature but also in resources that human’s depend on such as crops and timber,’ Scheffers (lead author of the aforementioned study with the University of Florida) said…[A] study in Nature Climate Change…found that 47 percent of land mammals and 23 percent of birds have already suffered negative impacts from climate change…A third study…found that more than 450 plants and animals have undergone local extinctions due to climate change… ‘We now have evidence that entire ecosystems, some the size of entire states within the USA, are changing in response to climate change,’ said Scheffers. He pointed to kelp forests that he said ‘are dying’ and being replaced by rocky, less-productive ecosystems…If global society doesn’t kick its fossil fuel addiction – and quick - scientists estimate that temperatures could rise 4-5 degrees Celsius by the end of the century. Such a rise would be not so much catastrophic, but apocalyptic… ‘Governments and large organizations can invest and commit to reducing carbon emissions and protecting natural ecosystems that increase resilience to climate change not only for nature but for people as well,’ Scheffers said. ‘These include large areas of connected forests which cool local and regional climate, pristine coral and oyster reefs that not only provide food but reduce storm surges, and well managed watersheds that will maintain adequate fresh water.’” Read Climate change impacting ‘most’ species on Earth, even down to their genome
Emily Holden reports for E&E News – “A memo detailing how U.S. EPA would cut its budget by one-third shows that the agency would eliminate hundreds of employees working on climate change, including 20 lawyers who provide support for the Clean Power Plan. Overall, EPA would reduce staffing from about 15,000 to a full-time equivalent ceiling of 11,547…President Trump has proposed halving the budget of EPA’s Office of Research and Development. The memo shows that would mean eliminating $19.4 million of EPA’s climate change research that is conducted in coordination with the U.S. Global Change Research Program and cutting 47 FTE. It would also mean getting rid of $10.6 million for the Science to Achieve Results grant program, which funds research at universities…[T]he proposal would eliminate the $69.7 million Climate Protection Program, which houses voluntary partnerships like Energy Star. It would cut 224 FTE from that program…[T]he budget document attempts to shift responsibility for many federal environmental laws to states. It would cut categorical grants like those for air quality, lead, pesticides enforcement and diesel emissions, resulting in a reduction to $597 million from $1.1 billion.” Read EPA Proposal Cuts Hundreds of Climate Change Employees
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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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