Ron Littlepage writes for The Florida Times Union – “I couldn’t help but stop mid-sentence and say, ‘Oh, wow.’ I suspect that’s a common reaction people have the first time they look down into one of the steephead ravines found in the Black Creek Ravines Conservation Area. The drop-off was dramatic, and the ravine was lush, with tall trees and a variety of vegetation. The song of a vireo added to the tranquility. A… tour guide described the ravine as having its own “micro climate” that fills it with rare plants… When Florida’s voters overwhelmingly approved Amendment 1 in 2014, this conservation area is the kind of place they were telling the Legislature they wanted more of. The water management district purchased the 964-acre tract in 1996 for $1.15 million through a forerunner of Florida Forever called Save Our Rivers… There are eight miles of trails that are popular with hikers and horseback riders… Our current Legislature put zero dollars into Florida Forever this year. Why were legislators wrong to ignore the voter’s will? The answer to that question becomes crystal clear during a visit to Black Creek Ravines Conservation Area. It’s a special place. There are others like it that must be saved before they are lost forever.” Read Foresight saved Ravines Conservation area
Bruce Ritchie reports for POLITICO Florida – “Environmental groups are asking the state to consider buying a conservation easement to protect nearly 40,000 acres along the Apalachicola River… Much of the land is in the Apalachicola River floodplain, which is critical to fish and wildlife populations and oysters in Apalachicola Bay… The request to the Department of Environmental Protection will be considered by the state Acquisition and Restoration Council, which will decide whether the property should be reviewed and then would decide whether to place it on the state (Florida Forever) purchase list… DEP receives no funding for land purchases in the 2017-18 state budget… But Dan Tonsmeire of the Apalachicola Riverkeeper group said he’s optimistic the land could be bought under Amendment 1... ‘When it (Florida Forever) comes back, hopefully it will be in the funding.’” Read Conservation project proposed for nearly 40,000 acres along Apalachicola River
Robert Knight writes for the Orlando Sentinel – “[T]he (St. Johns River Water Management District’s (SJRWMD’s] actions to date leave much to be desired for our springs, and Shortelle’s empty promises to the public demand a response… In response to… devastating loss of flow, the St. Johns River district governing board, with the full support of its executive director, has approved an even lower minimum flow for Silver Springs that will result in additional environmental and economic harm. In the face of several legal challenges to this distressing decision brought by concerned citizens and environmental organizations, the district is using taxpayer revenues to fight the very public’s interest it was employed to protect. Florida’s springs, and the citizens who appreciate a healthy aquatic environment, need leaders who can protect their future health and welfare from the special interests that profit from over-pumping and polluting the Florida Aquifer. The governance of the [SJRWMD] governing board is not fulfilling its mandate to manage the public’s water resources for the best interest of current and future residents and tourists. If Shortelle, and the governing board she answers to, cannot fulfill this basic function, they should be replaced by public servants who will stop the bleeding from Florida’s liquid heart.” Read Enough empty promises about protecting Florida springs
Bruce Ritchie reports for Politico Florida – “State Rep. Matt Caldwell… formally launched his campaign for agriculture commissioner… In 2013, the House State Affairs Committee that Caldwell chaired introduced a bill that provided for a reduced state tax on sugar farmland. Environmentalists said the bill forced taxpayers to pay for sugar industry pollution but later supported a compromise bill version that was signed into law. In 2016, Caldwell sponsored a water bill that some springs advocates criticized for allowing continued nitrogen pollution of springs by agriculture, sewage plants and septic tanks. The bill received support from Audubon Florida and The Nature Conservancy. This year, Caldwell expressed skepticism towards Senate President… Negron’s proposal for an Everglades… reservoir until the project, facing opposition from the sugar industry, was scaled back to focus on existing state-owned lands… But it was Caldwell who argued for passing Negron’s proposal in Senate Bill 10 when it was amended and passed by the House… Caldwell also chaired a… committee that… filed HB 7119, which would have provided $57 million a year towards land conservation, beginning in fiscal year 2018-19, and up to $200 million annually in the future…. ‘I think the voters deserve a serious commitment to land conservation,’ Caldwell told POLITICO Florida… Sierra Club Florida director Frank Jackalone… said the bill would have provided no money in the coming year and future spending could be changed by future legislators.” Read Matt Caldwell, veteran of ag and environmental issues in Legislature, kicks off ag commissioner race
Florida Politics reports – “Mike Sole, the former secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection, is headed for a seat on the state Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission… Sole served at DEP from 2007 to 2010, then went to work for Florida Power & Light Co. and NextEra Energy, where he has been vice president for environmental services.” Read Personnel note: Mile Sole appointed to fish and wildlife commission
Ledyard King reports for the Pensacola News Journal – “Despite the state legislature’s refusal to fund Rick Scott’s $200 million request to speed up modernization of the Herbert Hoover Dike, Florida’s Republican governor remains optimistic that the federal government will come through on the project. Scott has been stopping into various agencies in Washington in recent weeks, telling Cabinet officials who ask about his infrastructure wish list that accelerating work on the crumbling dike which surrounds Lake Okeechobee is his top request.” Read Gov. Rick Scott presses Feds for Dike funds
Coral Davenport reports for The New York Times – “In a surprising victory…, the Senate voted… to uphold an Obama-era climate change regulation to control the release of methane from oil and gas wells on public land… Senators John McCain…, Lindsey Graham…, and Susan Collins…, all Republicans who have expressed concern about climate change and backed legislation to tackle the issue, broke with their party to join Democrats and defeat the resolution (to repeal the rule)… Under Trump, lawmakers have used the Congressional Review Act to roll back several Obama administration environmental regulations, such as ones that would have: -Limited the way coal mining companies could dump debris into streams after blowing up mountaintops to gain access to coal deposits. – Required oil, gas, and mining companies to disclose payments to foreign governments in exchange for access to drilling or mining rights. – Revised the way the federal government conducts land-use planning on public lands, in ways that critics said reduced access to oil, gas, and mining resources. – Tightened restrictions on efforts by state officials to allow the hunting of certain animals, like wolves and grizzly bears, on some Alaskan federal wildlife refuges.” Read In win for environmentalists, Senate keeps an Obama-era climate change rule
Coral Davenport reports for The New York Times – “The Environmental Protection Agency has dismissed at least five members of a major scientific review board, the latest signal of what critics call a campaign by the Trump administration to shrink the agency’s regulatory reach by reducing the role of academic research. A spokesman for the E.P.A. administrator, Scott Pruitt, said he would consider replacing the academic scientists with representatives from industries whose pollution the agency is supposed to regulate… The dismissals… came abut six weeks after the House passed a bill aimed at changing the composition of another E.P.A. scientific review board to include more representatives from the corporate world.” Read E.P.A. Dismisses Members of Major Scientific Review Board
From Our Readers
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Upcoming Environmental Events
May 18, 6:30 pm – Attend a potluck and screening of “The Forgotten Coast: Return to Wild Florida” at the First Congregational Church of Winter Park (225 S. Interlachen Ave., Parish Hall) in Winter Park. RSVP to CFLGrassrootsProgressives@gmail.com or call (407) 951 – 8183. Please bring a dish to share at the potluck before the movie.
May 20, 10:00 am – Participate in a Hands Across the Sand event on Pensacola Beach in opposition to oil and gas drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and in support of a transition to clean energy. Participants will meet at the Casino Beach Pavilion for live music, education, and inspiring speeches about protecting Florida’s beaches. At 11:00 am, the group will walk to the water’s edge to hold hands in silent remembrance of the 2010 oil spill. For more information, click here, call (850) 687 – 9968, or email email@example.com.
May 20, 11:00 am – Participate in the Hands Across the Sand Event on Treasure Island at the Bilmar Beach Resort. Join hands to end our dependence on fossil fuels and look ahead to a clean energy future. There will be a press conference at 11:00 AM and an after party at Sloppy Joes. For more information, click here.
May 21, 3:00 pm – Attend a free “Solar Co-op Information Meeting” for the Alachua County Solar Co-op at the Alachua Library Branch (14913 NW 140 Street) in Alachua. For more information and to RSVP, click here.
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About the FCC: The Florida Conservation Coalition (FCC) is composed of 80 conservation-minded organizations and over two thousand individuals devoted to protecting and conserving Florida’s land, fish and wildlife, and water resources.
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