FCC News Brief - June 26, 2017

Nina Totenberg reports for NPR – “In a major property rights decision, the U.S. Supreme Court has delivered a decisive victory to state and local governments and environmental groups. By a 5-to-3 vote, the justices made it much harder for property owners to get compensation from the government when zoning regulations restrict the use of just part of landowners’ property.” Read Environmentalists Rejoice: Court Says Land Regulation Doesn’t Go ‘Too Far’

Eric Staats reports for the Naples Daily News – “Crews have closed a gap in wildlife fencing along Alligator Alley that has long been a hot spot for Florida panther roadkills. The $2 million project, which wrapped up last week, replaced a 4-foot fence with a 10-foot fence along both sides of a 9-mile stretch of Interstate 75 from the Naples tollbooth to the Faka-Union Canal… Since 2007, 13 panthers have been killed by vehicles along the stretch of road with the shorter fence… It took a 2015 report by a transportation ecologist, commissioned by the Florida Wildlife Federation, to persuade the Florida Department of Transportation to build the taller fence. The DOT announced plans for the fencing months later. ‘We’re very pleased FDOT responded so quickly and completely,’ said Nancy Payton, Southwest Florida field representative for the federation.” Read Fencing raised along Alligator Alley to protect Florida panthers, drivers

Manley Fuller writes for the Orlando Sentinel – “So far this year, vehicle collisions have killed an average of two endangered Florida panthers a month… About 20 black bears die every month on roadways… Since 1994, there have been over 40 bear collisions on Interstate 4 between the State Road 44 and U.S. Highway 92 exits. And we all see many other dead creatures – deer, squirrels, opossums, bobcats, birds, reptiles and more – along our roadsides. This hurts people, too: An estimated 200 people are killed and 29,000 injured yearly in the U.S. when their cars collide with animals. The good news is that we can prevent this… Building safe crossings for wildlife can reduce the carnage to nearly zero. Wildlife crossings take a number of different forms – expanded culverts, special ledges built along rivers or canal banks under highway bridges, or full-blown overpasses, like the striking forested Cross Florida Greenway Land Bridge over Interstate 75 near Ocala… The… crossings… provide key connections so that animals can roam in search of mates, which helps prevents inbreeding and protects a healthy gene pool for whole populations. Since wildlife watching contributes $5.8 billion yearly to Florida’s economy, it makes sense for us to do what we can to keep our wildlife populations healthy and protected. If we humans are going to take over their landscape, the least we can do is use whatever tools we can to make it safer for them so we can all coexist.” Read Wildlife crossings let Florida critters roam free

Kevin Wadlow reports for FL Keys News – “Support from the Florida Keys ‘made a very, very big impact’ in persuading Florida lawmakers to approve a massive water-storage area south of Lake Okeechobee, state Sen. Anitere Flores said… Florida Keys elected officials, charter captains, anglers and conservationists actively joined the push for the reservoir, which was opposed by Florida’s sugar industry. Declarations and lobbying helped turn the tide, said Flores, who was Senate vice president this past legislative session… (Rep.) Raschein (R-Key Largo) said $13.2 million approved under the Florida Keys Stewardship Act for various water-related projects is significant because the legislators were not doling out much in local funding during this year’s session… This year, the legislature did not approve any funding for the Florida Forever program, which was active in buying private owned land in the Keys and elsewhere. ‘Very disappointing,’ Raschein said.” Read Keys gave reservoir bill big boost, lawmakers say

Kimberly Miller reports for the Palm Beach Post – “The South Florida Water Management District was granted emergency permission… to back pump clean water into Lake Okeechobee to save animals and plants in bloated water conservation areas. District spokesman Randy Smith said the district had hoped to avoid the back pumping by opening flood gates that would allow excess water to flow south into Everglades National Park and Florida Bay. But that option has so far been blocked to protect the Cape Sable Seaside Sparrow, Smith sad… Smith said the water being pumped north into Lake Okeechobee has been treated. ‘This is not the old style of just grabbing water from wherever,’ he said.” Read Emergency Lake Okeechobee back-pumping granted to save wildlife

Steve Waters reports for the Sun Sentinel – “ ‘We have the highest water level ever since records were kept going into the rainy season,’ said Ron Bergeron… Bergeron, who is the FWC’s point man on Everglades issues, said he has been on the phone repeatedly with Gov. Rick Scott over the past 10 days… In addition, he’s had emergency meetings with… the FWC, the U.S. Department of the Interior, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), the South Florida Water Management District and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers… Bergeron said Scott issued an emergency order on Friday to move water out of the Everglades’ water conservation areas… That water would flow… into the Everglades National Park and Florida Bay, which need fresh water… [Bergeron] added that all but a few of the tree islands in the Everglades, which are used by white-tailed deer and other wildlife, including several endangered turtles and snakes, are under water, and the water is too deep for wading birds… Bergeron said… water might need to be moved for quite some time, which could delay work on Everglades restoration projects for several months… [FWS] is concerned that moving water through the S-12A and S-12B could impact the endangered cape Sable seaside sparrow. Bergeron said agency personnel told him they would like to keep those spillways closed until July 15 to keep water out of the birds’ nesting area in Everglades National Park, but they will evaluate the situation.” Read High water levels threaten survival of Everglades, expert warn

The Economist writes – “If anything ought to be too big to fail, it is the ocean… By the middle of the century the ocean could contain more plastic than fish by weight… The ocean nurtures humanity. Humanity treats it with contempt. Such self-destructive behavior demands explanation. Three reasons for it stand out. One is geography… [F]or the most part, the sea is out of sight and out of mind… A second problem is governance. The ocean is subject to a patchwork of laws and agreements. Enforcement is hard… Waters outside national jurisdictions – the high seas- are a global commons. Without defined property rights or a community invested in their upkeep, the interests of individual actors in exploiting such areas win out over the collective interest in husbanding them… Third, the ocean is a victim of other, bigger processes… Some of these problems are easier to deal with than others. ‘Ocean blindness’ can be cured by access to information… More data and analysis… make it easier to police existing agreements.” Read How to improve the health of the ocean

John L. Ward writes for The Florida Times Union – “Political battles make lively news, but they drown out the widespread reports of damages climate change causes to human health. Eleven medical associations, representing about half the doctors and physicians in the country, are now forming a group – the Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health – to bring attention to the growing threat and push for action… Rising heat increases diabetes and death from heat stroke, kidney disease and dehydration… Carbon pollution raises global temperature, increases asthma, heart attacks from hardened arteries (20 percent higher in more polluted areas) and recent research indicates possibly degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s… Heavier downpours in a warmer world wash fertilizers and animal waste into rivers, lakes and oceans where they increase algae, viruses and bacteria… The higher water vapor levels in warmer air increase mold’s range… A 2016 report warned that warming temperatures with erratic precipitation could cause crops to accumulate increased mycotoxins (poisons produced by fungi that can lead to cancer and death.) Bug-borne diseases such as Lyme, West Nile, Chagas, dengue, chikungunya and Zika are spreading.” Read Health impacts of climate change are serious





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Upcoming Environmental Events    

June 27, 2:00 pm – Listen to an educational webinar on how to use the Clean Water Act to file and win a citizen lawsuit. Speakers will include Heather Govern from the National Environmental Law Center and Whitey Markle from the Suwannee/St. Johns Sierra Club Group. To register, click here.

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.

July 11, 6:00 pm – Attend a public solar information meeting at the Bob Graham Center on the University of Florida Campus in Gainesville. The Alachua County Solar Co-op is open to new members until July 28th.

July 12, 8:00 pm – Attend a showing of “Apalachicola River: An American Treasure,a documentary about Florida’s largest river, at Blue Tavern in Tallahassee. For more information and to indicate your interest in attending, click here.

July 19, 6:45 pm – Attend a public solar information meeting at the Millhopper Branch of the Alachua County library system in Gainesville. The Alachua County Solar Co-op is open to new members until July 28th.




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