John Davis reports for WGCU – “As residents and visitors flock to Florida beaches over the long Fourth of July holiday weekend, wildlife officials and advocates are urging beachgoers to be mindful of nesting shorebird colonies and sea turtles.” Read Beachgoers Encouraged to Protect Nesting Birds/Sea Turtles
Eric Staats reports for the Naples Daily News – “The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced… that it will review whether Florida panthers are still an endangered species. The review… comes after a panther population rebound has led to growing calls from hunters and ranchers to take the big cats off the endangered species list… The Endangered Species Act requires that a species’ status be reviewed every five years… ‘I think it’s time (for a new review),’ said Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commissioner Liesa Priddy,… who drew criticism for a controversial memo that said Southwest Florida has reached its ‘carrying capacity’ for panthers… As part of the status review, the Fish and Wildlife Service asked… that the public submit any new information about population trends, habitat conditions, threats and whether the panther still should be considered a separate subspecies… The current federal recovery plan for Florida panthers requires at least two breeding populations of 240 panthers each before the panther can be listed as threatened instead of endangered; three such populations are required before the panther can be taken off the list altogether. That plan also is under review… Conservancy of Southwest Florida CEO Rob Moher said panthers have expanded their range but still are losing core habitat.” Read U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to review Florida panther’s endangered status
Jim Piggott reports for News4Jax – “The Department of Health in Duval County was awarded $549,000 in grants… by Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection to… continue the septic tank remediation project. The projects include identifying older and faulty septic systems to be fixed or replaced… The grant was also for the continuation of projects to locate possible pollutants for 25 impaired bodies of water in the Lower St. Johns River Watershed. Duval County Director of Environmental Health and Safety Scott Turner told News4JAx the health department was focusing efforts on septic systems while the city would work on converting septic systems to city sewers… A $199,862 grant was also approved for inventory updates for onsite sewage treatment and disposal systems… in over 75 percent of Florida’s counties. The DEP approved a $115,000 grant to create a OSTDS maintenance and management module in the DOH’s database.” Read State approves $549K grant to survey, repair septic tanks
Claire Goforth writes for Folio Weekly – “[D]espite passionate opposition and a lawsuit, the port is pursuing a project to dredge 11 miles of the St. Johns River shipping channel from 40 to 47 feet… [I]t [does not] seem to care that the economic windfall its paid consultant predicted dredging would create is so full of holes it could get a second job as a colander… Or that the city has not agreed to pick up its $47-$150 million share of dredging tab, which would start coming due in 2020… In a 2010 fish kill that Riverkeeper Executive Director Jimmy Orth told the Florida Times-Union was ‘unprecedented,’ scores of dead fish were seen floating from the Buckman Bridge to Lake George. That year, strange foam appeared along miles of riverbank and 19 bottlenose dolphins mysteriously died in the river in mere months… You know what else happened in 2010? The port deepened the St. Johns River… Our river is stressed, overtaxed by Central Florida water draws and pollutants. The last thing it needs is more abuse.” Read The Deep Water War: JaxPort takes on the Riverkeeper and the public
Ron Littlepage writes for The Florida Times Union – “JaxPort members… took the first step in committing to spend a half billion dollars… to dredge the St. Johns River… without one word of discussion… The only substantial public discussion of JaxPort’s intention of spending such a massive amount of public money came during Alvin Brown’s term as mayor when he appointed a task force to determine if the proposal was justified. That task force was stopped midstream with the election of Mayor Lenny Curry… The task force was leaning toward recommending that the dredge go forward with the stipulation that a big pot of money, as much as $50 million, be set aside to mitigate any harm done to the St. Johns… [Now] only a smidgen of money, about $3 million, is being included for mitigation… The track record of the Corps in Jacksonville and other places is not good.” Read No talk, little environmental action by JaxPort on river deepening
Susan Salisbury reports for the Palm Beach Post – “The Sierra Club filed an appeal… in the Florida Supreme Court asking it to overturn the Florida Public Service Commission’s approval of Florida Power & Light Company’s $800 million peaker project. The Sierra Club said FPL customers are being forced to pay for ‘the utility’s aggressive expansion of fracked gas infrastructure, despite failing to prove it’s necessary.’… FPL spokeswoman Sarah Gatewood said in a statement…: ‘…Rather than recognizing our innovative approach to running our business and the resulting significant benefits for all customers, including 1,200 megawatts of cost-effective new solar right here in Florida over the next four years as well as plans to shut down three coal plants by 2019, this out-of-state group is instead moving forward with more frivolous, expensive litigation that will cost… all Florida taxpayers,’…” Read Sierra Club files appeal of $800 million FPL project approval
Seth Borenstein reports for ABC News – “Poor and southern U.S. counties will get hit hardest by global warming, according to a first-of-its-kind detailed projection of potential climate change effects at the local level. The study published… in the journal Science, calculates probable economic harms and benefits for more than 3,100 counties in the United States under different possible scenarios for worldwide emissions of heat-trapping gases… The county hit hardest if greenhouse gas emissions continue unabated is tiny and impoverished Union County in Florida, where median income would take a 28 percent hit. And among counties with at least 500,000 people, Polk County in central Florida would suffer the most, with damages of more than 17 percent of income. Seven of the 10 counties with the highest percentage of projected county income losses from climate change are in Florida…The whole nation’s gross domestic product would shrink by 0.7 percent hit for every degree Fahrenheit temperatures go up, the study calculates, but that masks just how uneven the damage could be… ” Read Climate change up close: Southern, poor counties to suffer
Joel Engelhardt reports for my Palm Beach Post – “When Gov. Rick Scott rips the Obama administration over repairs to the Lake Okeechobee dike, he assumes that making the dike safe means it can hold more water. Holding more water means less water sent to fragile estuaries, which means less algae causing havoc… As Scott prepares to challenge Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson in 2018, he is making Lake Okeechobee a foundation of his environmental stand. But to longtime observers of the federal efforts to repair the dike, Scott’s position holds no water. ‘It doesn’t make sense,’ Audubon Florida Executive Director Eric Draper said. ‘The current repairs are only about the current safety risk.’… [E]ven when the dike is complete, there’s no guarantee the levels of water Lake Okeechobee can hold will increase… Additionally…, raising lake levels to hold more water would damage the fragile lake’s ecology, killing plants that thrive in the lake’s marshy conditions and decimating its world-famous fishing.” Read Florida Gov. Rick Scott sees Lake Okeechobee dike as algae solution
From Our Readers
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Upcoming Environmental Events
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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