The Orlando Sentinel Editorial Board writes – “[I]f legislators are really interested in heeding the will of the people, they’ll also find more money for Florida Forever and other programs created to protect the state’s irreplaceable natural lands from development (during their special session)… Their budget included borrowing authority for a new $1.2 billion reservoir to reduce polluted discharges from Lake Okeechobee and $150 million for ongoing Everglades restoration… [T]hese expenditures are… painful reminders of the consequences of failing to invest up front, through land conservation… to avoid far more expensive cleanups in the future… [T]he (Florida Forever) program has identified an additional 2 million acres as priorities for purchase or other protection based on a scientific assessment of Florida’s resources and needs. Buying more of that land, or the development rights for it, would preserve more of the state’s dwindling wildlife habitat, expand areas for recreation, and protect springs, rivers, beaches and the underground water supply… If lawmakers fail to revisit Florida Forever, there is no backup plan. The program will have to wait another year for funding at a time when rapid population growth is gobbling up acreage for development across the state. As Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, a Republican candidate for governor, said last week,’ With more than 1,000 people moving to Florida every day, we must continue to prioritize the preservation of our world-renowned natural spaces.’… Listen to the people, legislators, and replenish Florida Forever.” Read Heed voters’ will on Florida land conservation
The Ocala Star Banner Editorial Board writes – “When the St. Johns River Water Management District and its sister, the Southwest Florida Water Management District (Swiftmud), approved new minimum flows and levels for three of our region’s first-magnitude springs – Rainbow Springs/River, Silver Springs/River and Three Sisters Springs/Crystal River – they said the objective was to determine at what point these precious waters would face significant environmental harm… Of course, even the casual observer can see all of these waterways have already experienced lasting damage and are not getting better… Both water boards should revisit the MFLs. Why take our precious springs and the rivers they feed, already stressed, even imperiled, down to the verge of destruction? Why?” Read Line in the sand?
Brad Rogers writes for the Ocala Star Banner – “The Southwest Florida Water Management District last week enacted once-a-week lawn watering. A couple weeks earlier the St. Johns River Water Management District declared a Water Shortage Order for the first time since 1999… So, let’s see if I’ve got this right. We’re in a water emergency and our aquifer, springs and rivers are way down, so while we’re all asked to not use any water we don’t need, there’s still enough water in our iconic springs and rivers to build and pump and build and pump. Now turn that sprinkler off, will ya? There’s 1000 new residents a day moving into Florida, and they need that water.” Read Wages, water and no veto
Marv Balousek reports for Villages News – “While area residents face a 10 percent water surcharge fee due to dry weather, the Southwest Florida Water Management District is reviewing an application to withdraw 2.3 million gallons of water or more daily from Florida aquifers for the Villages of Southern Oaks development… Peak month withdrawal rates for all uses including residential, commercial, amenities, roadway, open space and golf courses could be as high as 11.1 million gallons daily…” Read Daily draw of 2.3 million gallons of water sought for new homes in Villages of Southern Oaks
Hayley Miller reports for The Huffington Post – “The Trump administration took a major step forward… in its pledge to expand offshore oil and gas drilling in the Atlantic Ocean by greenlighting a process that could wreak havoc on marine life and coastal communities, scientists say. The National Marine Fisheries Service drafted five Incidental Harassment Authorizations, which would let five drilling companies ‘injure or disturb’ fish and marine mammals as the companies search for oil and gas deposits off the East Coast for a one-year period… [T]he dynamite-like noise could threaten vulnerable marine ecosystems and wildlife, especially the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale, of which only about 500 remain… The process can substantially reduce catch rates for fish…, harming the multi-billion-dollar commercial and recreational fishing industries… Authorization of the permits will face a 30-day public comment period. ” Read Trump Administration Could Permit Oil Companies to ‘Assault’ Marine Life
Charles M. Murphy reports for Okeechobee News – “Lee County Commissioner Frank Mann said they have requested more freshwater releases from the lake. He noted algae blooms have popped up along the Caloosahatchee River. This time the blooms are blamed on too little freshwater flow… The President’s budget proposal for 2018 includes $76 million for Everglades projects and $82 million for the Herbert Hoover Dike.” Read Lee County wants more water from lake
Kimberly Miller reports for the Palm Beach Post – “25 hunters… earned minimum wage plus bonuses to stalk and kill [Burmese pythons.] The experimental program launched March 25 by the South Florida Water Management District ended Thursday with 154 dead snakes weighing a total of 4,000 pounds. While the final tally of costs wasn’t available Friday, water management officials said they expect it to be about half of the $175,000 set aside for the program. ‘It’s been a great success,’ said district executive director Pete Antonacci, who will recommend to the district’s governing board that the program be extended or become permanent.” Read Python program ends with 154 snakes dead; should it continue?
The Miami Herald Editorial Board writes – “Scientists warn that warmer oceans will result in more frequent and intense hurricanes. Those hurricanes could slam into Florida coastal cities unprepared for the effects of climate change… [S]hould we fail to brace ourselves, for a hurricane in the short term, and climate change in the long term, massive flooding could lead to salt water intrusion in the Florida Everglades, a scenario that could ruin the River of Grass’ intricate and life-giving system. And that’s the least of it… Trump’s proposed budget targets FEMA, which provides disaster relief, and NOAA, which, among its many responsibilities, conducts hurricane research. Keep in mind, Trump has been derelict in even appointing anyone to lead either currently leaderless agency… It is imperative that all of Florida’s lawmakers in Congress… push back, and say NO (to President Trump’s proposed budget)… And all this is playing out as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is predicting an above-average hurricane season this year.” Read Storm clouds already gathering financial and philosophical, this hurricane season
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