Jim Turner reports for the News Service of Florida – “Noah Valenstein, an architect of Gov. Rick Scott’s conservation platform during the 2014 election, will be the only applicant who will be interviewed next week to become the state’s environmental secretary. Valenstein, currently the executive director of the Suwannee River Water Management District, was one of 142 applicants for the job… Eric Draper, executive director of Audubon Florida… [said] that for an agency that needs strong leadership to enforce its policies, Valenstein has a ‘great reputation’ and ‘the potential to be one of our best environmental secretaries.’… Two months after Valenstein joined Scott’s re-election effort, the governor rolled out a $1 billion, 10-year environmental blueprint… Scott’s funding proposal sought $150 million a year to preserve sensitive lands, $50 million a year for alternative water supply projects and another $50 million a year for natural springs restoration… Valenstein has… worked as a legislative lobbyist for the Department of Environmental Protection, as a deputy policy chief with the state House and as director of legislative affairs for the Everglades Foundation.” Read Valenstein emerges for DEP secretary job
The Ocala Star Banner Editorial Board writes – “[S]prings aren’t getting the protection they need… [A]pproved plans for both Silver and River… will allow… spring flow to drop even further before stricter rules go into effect. The new rule – meant to comply with a legislative mandate to set ‘minimum flows and levels’ for significant water bodies – infuriated local environmentalists, who pointed out that the flow of both springs is already causing ecological harm to the springs habitat… [T]here are a few obvious solutions, including reducing the number of septic tanks in the area, continuing to push back against over-use of fertilizer and evaluating stormwater systems for efficiency… It should be a united effort – with vocal support from Marion County as well as local cities for rules that will make it easier for them to require better water-use measures in future development… We need stringent rules, more aggressive conservation and anti-pollution programs and serious goals for reducing overpollution and overconsumption.” Read Saving the springs an unending battle
The Center for Biological Diversity writes – “As the human population grows and the rich countries continue to consume resources at voracious rates, we are crowding out, poisoning and eating all other species into extinction… The Florida panther once ranged throughout the southeastern United States, but now survives in a tiny area of South Florida representing just 5 percent of its former range. It was listed as an endangered species in 1967 because of habitat destruction and fragmentation through urban sprawl… As of 2011, there are only 100 to 120 panthers left… Recent development patterns pose extreme threats to panthers. As the Florida coasts approach full buildout and have become unaffordable to most people, development has moved inland to the same places panthers retreated to as safe havens decades ago… More than half the world’s 7 billion people live within 150 miles of the coast, putting tremendous pressure on species trying to find space to live and reproduce among the crowds. Among them is the loggerhead sea turtle, which was listed as a federally threatened species in 1978 owing to destruction of its beach nesting habitat, harassment while nesting, overharvesting of its eggs, and bycatch death via commercial fishing gear. Ninety-five percent of the U.S. breeding population of loggerheads nests in Florida, whose human population has doubled in the past 30 years… Lake Lanier, a manmade reservoir in Georgia, feeds several important river systems in the southeastern United States and has been the site of a longstanding conflict between Georgia, Florida and Alabama over water-use rights. The gulf sturgeon, an anadromous fish, was placed on the threatened species list in 1991. Its most imperiled populations occur in the Apalachicola River, fed by rivers from Lake Lanier. Gulf sturgeon lay eggs on the waterlines along the banks of rivers, and maintaining the right level of water is critical to their breeding success.” Read Top 10 U.S. Endangered Species Threatened by Human Population
Michael Moline reports for Florida Politics – “The Triple S Ranch lies 15 miles north of Lake Okeechobee – a 7,000-acre cattle operation, relatively untouched by development, within the recharge zone for the Kissimmee River. Rare and endangered species, including a Florida panther, wander its streams and cypress swamps. On Wednesday morning, aides to Gov. Rick Scott and the Cabinet will peruse a proposal to buy a conservation easement on 4,177 acres of the… property, for close to $7 million… ‘About one-fifth of the property supports natural upland vegetation, including scrub and mesic flatwoods, which are considered underrepresented communities on public lands in Florida…’ [a] summary says… ‘Activities that affect the hydrology of the land or that detrimentally affect water conservation, erosion control, soil conservation, or fish and wildlife habitat,’ would be banned.” Read Thousands of acres of conservation easement on Cabinet aides’ agenda
Craig Pittman reports for the Tampa Bay Times – “In 2011, when Gov. Rick Scott picked Charles W. “Chuck” Roberts III to sit on the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the selection made news because Roberts had had several run-ins with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection… Now Roberts’ term has expired and Scott has replaced him on the wildlife commission with Mike Sole – who was running the DEP part of the time when Roberts was being found in violation of… pollution rules. While at DEP, Sole garnered praise for his handling of the state’s response to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster. More recently Sole has been [with] Florida Power & Light as an executive branch lobbyist and occasional spokesman. Unlike every other person on the wildlife commission, the Marine veteran actually has an academic background suited for the job. He earned a bachelor’s degree in marine biology at the Florida Institute of Technology, where he studied the population and migration of manatees.” Read Ex-DEP boss picked for wildlife commission
Judy Sanchez writes for the TC Palm – “Eve Samples’ recent column (“Long wait for Everglades reservoir a ‘national embarrassment”) completely ignored the major reason behind delays to complete the original Everglades Agricultural Area Reservoir: a 2008 lawsuit from the Natural Resources Defense Council, joined by the Sierra Club and the Florida Wildlife Federation… What might be even more important to TCPalm’s readership is knowing the EAA Reservoir was never intended to stop the majority of the Lake Okeechobee releases. Its primary purpose was to store water for the Everglades… The reservoir also would provide some water for agriculture and some reduction in lake releases to the estuaries. CERP’s major plan for reducing discharges came from underground storage around the lake.” Read Don’t blame sugar for Everglades reservoir delays
Michael Moline reports for Florida Politics – “Proposed rules for the Constitution Revision Commission could let members deliberate in secret [and] limit public participation… watchdog groups warned… They warned of… an ‘unclear track for approval of proposals.'… The proposed rules ban commissioners from accepting gifts from lobbyists, except for campaign contributions. ‘That means legislators and other elected officials might be influenced to vote on issues based on whether their votes will yield campaign contributions,’ the organizations said.” Read Watchdogs decry Constitution Revision Commission’s proposed rules
Barbara Marshall writes for my Palm Beach Post – “Florida has been condoized, concreted, compromised… [B]ut [Weeki Wachee] has an authentic vintage charm not even the Mouse House can manufacture… There are more than 700 natural freshwater springs in Florida,… more than anywhere else in the world… We rented kayaks from the Chassahowitka River Campground and took off downriver. Five minutes of paddling took us into the North Florida wilderness, under a thick canopy of cypress, oak and cabbage palm, without a single building in sight… [F]rom a pedestrian bridge, we peered down at dozens of sea cows, many of them babies, basking in the warm water close to [Homosassa] spring.” Read Traveling to Florida’s Nature Coast
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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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We hope you enjoy this service and find it valuable. Our goal is to provide you with the latest environmental news from around the state. Our hope is that you will use this information to more effectively and frequently contact your elected representatives, and add your voice to the growing chorus of Floridians concerned about the condition of our environment and the recent direction of environmental policies.
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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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