The TC Palm Editorial Board writes – “In a way, maybe it was partly our fault. State Senate President Joe Negron’s overriding priority this year was a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee… What we didn’t realize, at least initially, was that the Legislature might see this as an either/or proposition. That is, while the Legislature found money for the reservoir and some other environmental priorities, Florida’s iconic land-buying program, Florida Forever, got stiffed… [I]f money’s in such short supply, perhaps the Legislature could stop using Amendment 1 funds to pay salaries, buy state vehicles and cover other routine expenses that normally come from general revenue, a practice which has gotten the state sued by environmental groups. Latvala and other legislators do indeed need to ‘fix’ this. But that doesn’t mean restoring funding for Florida Forever to the paltry amount allocated last year. It means the state needs to do what voters directed in 2014, when 75 percent voted for a constitutional amendment designed, in large part, to conserve land… The need for a reservoir is great. But so is the need to protect our natural areas. The state of Florida must find a way to prioritize both.” Read It’s not either-or on Amendment 1 money
Whitey Markle writes for The Ocala Star Banner – “Do the Ocala City Council and the Marion County Commission understand that Silver Springs is in a death spiral?... Both of our local boards have gone on record in favor of increased pumping from the aquifer, which could reduce the flow of an already suffering Silver Springs… [T]heir counterparts in Citrus County and Crystal River actually had the courage and good sense to pass a resolution opposing the state’s plan to allow more pumping in the Rainbow River springshed… Marion County elected officials voted to intervene in an administrative appeal made by a concerned citizen, Karen Chadwick… The issue centers on… Minimum Flows and Levels (MFLs) for Silver Springs… MFLs are defined… as the limit… at which further withdrawals would be significantly harmful to the water resources or ecology of the area. If the water and ecology of the area are already in decline, how could further withdrawals not be harmful?... Did any of the Marion County commissioners or the Ocala city councilmen attend even one of the hearings when the SJRWMD was deliberating the Silver Springs MFL?... It wasn’t long ago when you would see local politicians at public meetings. We… invited the Marion County Commission to the deliberations two blocks from their offices. None attended… [G]overnment should not thwart the good intentions of a citizen who had the audacity to keep the springs from further degradation and abuse. Shouldn’t we expect Marion and Ocala elected officials to have as much common sense as those in Citrus County? Not adequately caring for Silver Springs is not only ecological neglect, it’s also costly.” Read Officials ignore springs realities
Alex Bonogofsky reports for Truthout – “Ackerman… chose Dunnellon as an organizing hub because the town… is a site for one of Sabal Trail Transmission’s large compressor stations. These stations are needed about every 40 to 100 miles along pipelines to re-pressurize the gas. Compressor stations… release volatile organic compounds, particulate matter and other gases. Plus, they’re loud. Many Americans living near compressor stations have reported nosebleeds, trouble breathing, dizziness and nausea, and complain about the 24/7 noise.” Read “This State is on the Front Lines”: Floridians Mobilize Against Sabal Trail Natural Gas Pipeline
The Naples Daily News Editorial Board writes – “A new report… that analyzes the health of 10 estuaries and watersheds in Southwest Florida is a wake-up call for local government leaders and area residents… [T]he Conservancy of Southwest Florida report… assigns environmental health letter grades in each geographic area studied. One grade is for water quality, such as the presence of nutrients, metals and bacteria in the water. The other grade is for wildlife habitat, which includes preservation of mangroves and wetlands, plus the acquisition of conservation lands… Worst off are the Naples Bay watershed and the Caloosahatchee River basin… Each watershed received a D-minus grade, both in preserved habitat and water quality. Best off is the Ten Thousand Islands region…; it received an A-plus for preserved habitat but a C-plus for water quality… The most common water-quality grade for estuaries and watersheds in Lee and Collier counties was a D or D-minus… - The Legislature must renew the Florida Forever land acquisition program and live up to voters’ clear Amendment 1 directive. – Any opportunity to preserve wetlands-rich sites like the 4,000-acre Edison Farms property east of Estero and Bonita Springs must be seized through adequately financed conservation programs. Todays’ missed opportunity becomes rooftops for future generations… - A Collier stormwater utility brings a financial cost to property owners, but what’s the long-range cost of not acting? D’s become F’s?” Read Conservancy estuaries report card a wake-up call for Southwest Florida
Chad Gillis reports for News Press – “Water managers voted… to move forward with a plan to pump billions of gallons of water 3,000 feet or so beneath ground during heavy rain events. The U. S. Army Corps of Engineers last month rejected the idea, but water managers say they will forge ahead without their federal Everglades restoration partners.” Read State upset over deep well injection rejection
John Lantigua reports for the ACLU – “In summer 2016, when blue green algae scum clogged the waters of the St. Lucie River and its estuary the air turned toxic… [S]tate agencies were slow to respond to the outbreak… and to release information and warnings to citizens… [O]nce the state did respond, the methodology used to measure the toxicity of the water… was questionable and the results untrustworthy… Critics say… that protecting the environment and public health has increasingly taken a back seat to economic interests, restraining and compromising the work of state scientists.” Read Tainted Waters: Introduction – The 2016 algae bloom and public health
David Smiley reports for the Miami Herald – “In order to save Shorecrest…, government officials across the region are now asking whether it ought to be redesigned rather than simply reinforced. Where climate change poster child Miami Beach is investing $500 million in pumps, streets and sea walls in order to fight for every inch of dry land, municipalities on the mainland are exploring what some communities would look like if they were made to accommodate rising seas rather than simply fight then. One idea likely to be both controversial and expensive: demolishing properties and returning developed areas back to nature… Most of the southeast corner of the community… would be bought by the government and turned into a low-lying park designed to hold water during high tides and rainy seasons. Eminent domain is not on the table, meaning the plan would rely on dozens of property owners selling voluntarily… Property owners forgoing building rights in vulnerable areas would receive density and height bonuses elsewhere in the city.” Read Mainland Miami ponders returning neighborhoods to nature in order to survive rising seas
Andy Reid reports for the Sun Sentinel – “The South Florida Water Management District board… agreed to prolong the (python) hunt through September. The board also opened up more district land to registered python hunters, including district-owned property in Broward as well as Collier County… ” Read South Florida python hunt shifts to Broward County
From Our Readers
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Upcoming Environmental Events
June 13, 12:00 pm – Join the Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute at the North Florida Springs Environmental Center in High Springs for Springs Academy Tuesdays; a lunchtime lecture series on Florida’s springs. June’s lecture is on Springs Chemistry. All lectures are free and open to the public. A recommended donation of $5 is appreciated. More information is available here or by calling (386) 454 - 2427.
July 11, 12:00 pm – Join the Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute at the North Florida Springs Environmental Center in High Springs for Springs Academy Tuesdays; a lunchtime lecture series on Florida’tomors springs. July’s lecture is on Springs Biology. All lectures are free and open to the public. A recommended donation of $5 is appreciated. More information is available here or by calling (386) 454 - 2427.
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