Florida Politics reports – “The Senate accepted the House offer on the agriculture and natural resources portion of the budget, agreeing not to set aside any money for Florida Forever in 2017-18… Aliki Moncrief, the executive director of Florida Conservation Voters [said,] ‘To say that we are disappointed would be a gross understatement. And to the millions of Florida’s conservation voters I say: set up appointments to welcome your legislators back home next week and give them an earful.’” Read Budget deal includes no money for Florida Forever
Isadora Rangel reports for the TC Palm – “Paying ranchers not to develop their property is the only environmental land preservation the Legislature agreed to fund in a state budget deal reached Wednesday… Not a single penny would go to the Florida Forever land preservation program or to grants for local parks. Environmentalists called the lack of funding a mishandling of the 2014 voter-approved constitutional Amendment 1… Lawmakers negotiated how to spend natural resource funds in meetings not open to the public or media… Lawmakers didn’t fund septic tank conversions to sewer systems either… That money was a priority of Gov. Rick Scott, whose other funding request didn’t get budgeted either: $200 million to help the federal government expedite repairs to the Herbert Hoover Dike around Lake Okeechobee. The Legislature likely will vote on the budget Monday… The Legislature agreed to budget $10 million for Rural and Family Lands, after initially proposing to defund it… Latvala said politics might be behind the decision to fund the program instead of Florida Forever… ‘My advocacy from the beginning has been to fund all three programs (Florida Forever, Florida Communities Trust, & Rural and Family Lands),’ said (Rep.) Caldwell… ‘All I can say is I pushed as hard as I could.’” Read All money for land preservation goes to ranchers in Legislature budget deal
Mitch Perry reports for Florida Politics – “Gwen Graham believes Floridians should be outraged over state lawmakers failing to honor voters’ wishes on land and water conservation… ‘…As governor, I will make sure that Amendment 1 dollars are spent to protect and preserve sensitive land sand sensitive waters because, at the end of the day, I want Florida to be the Florida that I was fortunate enough to be growing up in. I want this Florida to be here for future generations.’ Florida Forever regularly received upward of $300 million annually…, but those expenditures were dramatically reduced after the recession… Last year the program received $15.1 million.” Read Gwen Graham vows to ensure Amendment 1 funding if elected Governor
Steve Bousquet reports for the Tampa Bay Times – “House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Senate President Joe Negron agreed Wednesday on an $83 billion budget that will worse tensions with Gov. Rick Scott, who saw his priorities get soundly rejected. The two leaders finalized the budget, largely behind closed doors, a day late. The Legislature will need an extra day on Monday to pass the budget before sending it to Scott, whose veto pen could be in for a major workout… When asked if he would veto the budget, Scott didn’t rule it out… Corcoran… promised unprecedented transparency in the House… But he and Negron did not hold any public meetings to discuss differences… Some lawmakers were left in the dark.” Read Lawmakers hatch deal on budget, inviting possible veto by Rick Scott
Jenny Staletovich reports for the Miami Herald – “More Floridians are exposed to unsafe drinking water than just about anywhere in the country… The state ranked second in the number of people impacted by violations under the Safe Drinking Water Act based on the most recent data available from 2015… Nationally, 77 million people were exposed to unsafe water, with violations including high levels or toxic arsenic, lead and other chemicals, as well as failure to test or report contamination. The study… comes as the Trump administration considers drastic cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency, which enforces the law. ‘The problem is two-fold: there’s no cop on the beat enforcing our drinking water laws, and we’re living on borrowed time with our ancient, deteriorating water infrastructure,’ Eric Olson, NRDC’s health program director, said… ‘We take it for granted that when we turn on our kitchen tap, the water will be safe and healthy, but we have a long way to go before that is reality across our country.’… Altogether, 7.5 million Floridians received water from utilities that violated standards…. [M]ajor problems violated rules on cancer-causing disinfectants, high levels of coliform from human waste, and lead and copper that exceeded safe limits. Nationwide, the study found that small and rural communities racked up the highest number of violations and that for nine out of 10 violations, no formal action was taken to correct problems… The NRDC also reported that the EPA has not added any new drinking water standards since the law was amended in 1996 to require regular five-year updates on potential new contaminants to be monitored, including algae-related toxins that have fouled water around Florida.” Read Florida drinking water ranks among nation’s worst, study finds
Susan Salisbury reports for the Palm Beach Post – “The passage of Senate Bill 10 by the Florida House and Senate… drew praise from diverse groups including farmers and environmentalists… Here are some of the reactions: Tammy Jackson-Moore, Guardians of the Glades said, ‘Guardians of the Glades made our voices heard this session to ensure Senate Bill 10 would not devastate the Glades communities. We are grateful lawmakers… took into consideration the human impact on our communities by completely reworking Senate Bill 10 to protect our agricultural jobs…We also… hope that lawmakers… will support… efforts to speed up the rehabilitation of the Herbert Hoover Dike, which the governor understands is a top priority to protect the… safety of our residents south of Lake Okeechobee.’ Statement of Sierra Club Florida Chapter Director Frank Jackalone: Sierra Club supports the final version of SB 10… and urges Governor Scott to sign it into law. The bill funds construction of a reservoir that will have the capacity to receive and store a significant amount of water from Lake Okeechobee and move it south to the Everglades while reducing the need for harmful discharges to the St. Lucie Canal and Caloosahatchee River. We thank House and Senate leaders for improving the final version of SB 10 by removing earlier provisions that would have used Land Acquisition Trust Fund (LATF) revenue to fund Phase I of the C-51 water supply project and other inappropriate uses of voter mandated funding set aside for conservation and recreational land protection. Unfortunately, the bill still includes the LATF as a potential funding source for Phase II of the C-51 reservoir, which would be an impermissible expenditure of funds from the Land Acquisition Trust Fund under [Amendment One]. We continue to oppose funding for all water supply projects from LATF monies.’ Statement by Judy Sanchez, Senior Director of Corporate Communications and Public Affairs for U.S. Sugar… ‘Senate Bill 10 has been greatly improved, takes essentially no privately owned farmland, and even removes the threat of eminent domain…. Obviously, you’re going to have to build some solutions north of the lake to finally fix the discharge problem. We look forward to working with legislators in the future to get that done.’” Read Passage of SB 10 for reservoir pleases farmers and environmental groups
Scott Mitchell writes for the Ocala Star Banner – “In 2013 the Florida Department of Environmental Protection formed an advisory panel to guide long-term planning for Silver Springs, which had just been made a state park. The group consisted of local elected officials, staff from public land management agencies, adjacent landowners, business owners, environmentalists, recreational user groups, park volunteers and planners. Over four separate workshops, a plan for the management and development of Silver springs was drafted. Among other suggestions, it called for removing Wild Waters and replacing it with private retail shops and restaurants. Visitors could access the shops without paying park admission. The state park would retain ownership and private concessions would run the businesses. It was a plan agreed to by all parties. Trading acreage, private development within the park or a hotel at Silver Springs was never considered… Commissioner Zalak should be commended for his call to revitalize the area around Silver Springs. However, he is misguided in his approach… The county should… encourage the revitalization of the neglected existing business properties near the state park. ” Read We have an existing plan for Silver Springs
Kevin Spear reports for the Orlando Sentinel – “Orange (County) staffers are backing proposed revisions of county rules also favored by the lawn-service industry that would continue the controversial practice of spreading fertilizer on lawns during the wettest time of the year. In calling for a ban on rainy-season fertilizing, environmentalists say that lawn chemicals are flushed by summer thunderstorms into gutters and then into Florida’s waters, where they trigger destructive outbreaks of algae… Counties have been tweaking their fertilizer ordinances… as required by a new state law aimed at restoring polluted springs. The revisions have opened a window for considering a ban on rainy-season fertilizer. This year, Seminole (County) opted for such a ban… Next month, Orange County commissioners are to consider a revised ordinance that would allow rainy-season fertilizing… Orange County technically does ban lawn fertilizing during the rainy season. But residents can get an exemption to the ban by taking an online course that ‘probably takes you 10 minutes,’ said July Bortles, a regulatory coordinator at the county’s Environmental Protection Division. Although it requires minimal effort, only about 230 of Orange’s 1.3 million residents have obtained that exemption since 2009… Orange County, according to the county’s Environmental Protection Division, does little to inform residents about fertilizer rules and practices either through public education or enforcement… Orange County has a wider role in the fate of fertilizer pollution. The county’s springs, wetlands, storm drains and canals – and the pollution they carry – drain north into the Wekiva, Econlockhatchee and St. Johns rivers and south through creeks into the Everglades-bound Kissimmee River.” Read Orange County’s rules for lawn fertilizing face polarizing debate
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