FCC News Brief - July 27, 2017

Tony Doris reports for the Palm Beach Post – “West Palm Beach lost a major battle… to prevent extension of State Road 7 along the western border of Grassy Waters Preserve, the wetlands that filters much of the city’s drinking water. In authorizing the 4.1-mile project…, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dismissed the city’s environmental concerns, saying that features of the project would help the preserve… West Palm Beach has spent years and more than $2.1 million fighting the route… Mayor Jeri Muoio said…, ‘We have a history of documentation from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers indicating that they think the extension… is a bad idea. We will be reviewing all of our options including appeal.’ Palm Beach County, the South Florida Water Management District and the Florida Department of Transportation have backed the project, seen as at least a temporary reliever for traffic…, though others said it would merely encourage more development.” Read State Road 7 extension approved despite West Palm opposition

Randy Schultz writes for the Sun Sentinel – “New attempts keep emerging to turn a unique part of Palm Beach County into more suburbia. That special place is the Agricultural Reserve Area west of Delray Beach… between Florida’s turnpike and the Everglades. GL Homes soon will formally seek to build 2,000 more homes in the reserve than rules allow. In return, the company will offer to preserve land outside of the reserve on which GL has approval to build, supposedly producing a net overall gain. In fact, GL’s deal would undercut two decades of work – and $100 million in public money – to protect the reserve… Morningside Partners VI, which is based in Dallas, wants to build a mixed-use project… on 51 acres… The commission would have to approve several land-use changes that would torpedo protection of this productive, economically important coastal farm belt. County planners understand the potential harm. The staff recommends denial of the changes… [T]he commission should quickly reject Morningside’s proposal… [T]he county’s planning commission… ignored the staff report and recommended approval, though by a vote of just 5-4.” Read Reject latest push by suburbia into Agricultural Reserve Area

Wayne Washington reports for the Palm Beach Post – “Morning star offered… workforce housing… The workforce housing was to be part of a bargain; commissioners were also being asked to give Morning Star a project-specific exemption to the Ag Reserve rule requiring six acres to be set aside for every four that are developed. Instead of the 30 acres the developer would normally be required to preserve, Morning Star was asking the commission to let it preserve just 15… [C]ommissioners… made it clear… that they had qualms about the project… Schiller (of Morning Star) then sought support for a postponement to January. Even getting that was an uphill climb… Morning Star did get its postponement; the commission voted 5-2 in favor of it… [C]ommissioners gave preliminary approval to a comprehensive plan change that would allow a landowner in the Agricultural Reserve to develop 40,075 square feet of non-residential space… Development in the area is capped at 980,000 square feet, with approved projects already accounting for all of that space. But because the applicant, Three Amigos, was among those landowners previously granted permission to develop commercial space, commissioners voted in favor of the request… Another Agricultural Reserve business, West Delray Collision, didn’t fare as well… ” Read Affordable housing loses, Ag Reserve rules win in commission votes

A.G. Gancarski reports for Florida Politics – “Jacksonville City Council President Anna Brosche released charges… for three special committees that will convene over the next year… The Special Committee on Parks will deal with a continued decline of Jacksonville’s park system. ‘The Trust for Public Land recently ranked Jacksonville’s park system as the 90th best among the 100 largest cities in the country based on a combination of factors including size of the park system, per capita city spending on parks, percentage of the city’s population living within easy walking distance of a park, and the amount and diversity of park facilities,’ Brosche notes.” Read Charges released for Jacksonville City Council special committees

Phys.org reports – “A new study found that Caribbean staghorn corals are benefiting from “coral gardening,” the process of restoring coral populations by planting laboratory-raised coral fragments on reefs… In the study, the researchers set out to document restoration success during their initial two years at several coral restoration sites in Florida and Puerto Rico. Their findings showed that current restoration methods are not causing excess damage to donor colonies as a result of removing coral tissue to propagate new coral in the lab, and that once outplanted, corals behave just as wild colonies do… Staghorn coral populations have declined as much as 90% in the Caribbean since the 1980s. As a result, the species was listed as threatened under the U.S. Endangered Species Act in 2006… ” Read Coral gardening is benefiting Caribbean reefs, study finds

Karl Etters reports for the Tallahassee Democrat – “[S]cientists have a difference of opinion about whether the indigo snakes being released into the Apalachicola River bluffs are actually native to the region. The Coastal Plains Institute and Land Conservancy says researchers have reintroduced the wrong snake into the wild. The group is calling for the removal of a dozen snakes just released last week onto The Nature Conservancy’s Apalachicola Bluffs and Ravines Preserve in Liberty County… Citing a peer-reviewed, published DNA study, CPI says there is a Gulf Coast indigo snake – different genetically from the Eastern indigos released last week… CPI’s President and Executive Director Bruce Means wrote in a letter to Greg Sheehan, the acting director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, ‘We believe it is imperative that the correct species be released on its historic range and not a different species that looks similar.’… A rebuttal paper is being crafted by Auburn University herpetologist Craig Guyer, a lead research in indigo snakes and a partner in a similar reintroduction project… in Alabama. Nature Conservancy North Florida Program Manager David Printiss said the group involved with the release of snakes… discussed the genetic data referred to by Means. The permits to release the federally threatened indigo snakes were obtained through a rigorous scientific review, he said. ‘We reviewed it as a committee and decided the data did not warrant splitting the indigos into two species,’ Printiss said.” Read Herpetologists claim wrong indigo snake species released

Juliet Eilperin reports for The Washington Post – “Outdoor cats are the leading cause of death among both birds and mammals in the United States, according to a new study, killing 1.4 billion to 3.7 billion birds each year. The mammalian toll is even higher, concluded researchers from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, ranging from 6.9 billion to 20.7 billion annually… Roughly 150,000 to 400,000 birds in the United States die annually in wind turbines…, while 10 million to 1 billion birds die after colliding with glass.” Read Outdoor cats kill between 1.4 billion and 3.7 billion birds a year, study says

Scott Waldman reports for E&E News – “Countries in the Paris climate agreement set a target of keeping warming below 2 degrees Celsius by curbing carbon emissions compared to their preindustrial levels. But a new study shows that the preindustrial level used in the agreement, based on temperature records from the late 19th century, doesn’t account for a potential century of rising temperatures caused by carbon emissions. Accounting for those gases, released from about 1750 to 1875, would add another one-fifth of a degree to the baseline temperature, the study found… [T]he research suggests there’s less time than previously believed to address global warming, said Michael Mann, a climatologist at Pennsylvania State University… The new baseline casts doubt on humanity’s ability to meet the Paris target… Mann cautioned that there is still time to stave off the worst effects of warming, and that the Paris Agreement is the best path to get there… The global pact is supposed to review the best available science every few years to inform progress toward limiting global temperature rise.” Read The World May Have Less Time to Address Climate Change than Scientists Thought





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Upcoming Environmental Events    

August 1, 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. August’s lecture is on Springs Stresses with Dr. Robert Knight. All lectures are free and open to the public. A recommended donation of $5 is appreciated. For more information, click here or call (386) 454 - 2427.

August 4-6, 3:00 pm – Watch the Florida Wildlife Corridor’s newest documentary, “The Forgotten Coast” at The Calusa Nature Center in Fort Myers. The film showcases an expedition along Florida’s west coast from the Everglades to the Panhandle. The film showing is included with regular admission to the museum.

August 10, 7:00 pm – Attend Chasing Coral – Movie Night in Tallahassee. Coral reefs around the world are vanishing at an unprecedented rate. Divers, photographers and scientists set out on an ocean adventure to discover why the reefs are disappearing and to reveal the underwater mystery to the world. For more information, click here.

August 15, 7:00 – Attend a free, public solar information meeting at the Coral Gables Adult Center (2 Andalusia Ave.) in Coral Gables. The meeting is hosted by the Central Miami (North) Solar Co-op. For more information and to register, click here.

August 16, 7:00 – Attend a free, public solar information meeting at the Unitarian Universalist Church (7701 SW 76th Ave.) in Miami. The meeting is hosted by the Central Miami (South) Solar Co-op. For more information, click here.

August 20-23 – Join the Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute for its annual Florida Springs Field School; four days of outdoor activities and springs education in the Ocala National Forest! Field trip locations include Silver Springs State Park, Salt Springs, Juniper Springs, and Silver Glen Springs. For more information, click here or call (386) 454 - 2427.



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