Adrian Benepe writes for The Huffington Post – “As millions of Americans prepare to celebrate our collective national birthday on July 4 by getting outside…, we should also celebrate one of the most genuinely American ideas – public spaces held in the public trust, for all of us… Not only has President Trump begun a “review” of 27 National Monuments designations covering several decades, but a major source of Federal funding used for land conservation for the last 50 years is also under threat. The Land and Water conservation Fund (LWCF), which uses offshore oil and gas drilling fees instead of citizen tax dollars, faces possible elimination if it is not reauthorized and funded by Congress...” Read Celebrate Our Birthday by Visiting Our Lands
Frank Jackalone writes for Florida Today – “The shattering blasts come every 10 seconds. 24 hours a day, for weeks on end. The Trump administration wants to allow the use of seismic airgun blasting to map the ocean floor from Florida to Delaware in the search for oil and gas. Giant air horns, so loud they would shatter the human ear, generate blasts of up to 250 decibels reaching miles into the sea. Experts say the blasts impair hearing in marine mammals responsible for their navigation, communication, eating, and mating and would injure or kill 138,000 dolphins and whales. It would pose risks to nesting female and young sea turtles… It would also decimate fisheries along our coast and kill off zooplankton, the foundation of aquatic life, for 135,000 square miles.” Read Seismic airgun testing a bad deal for Florida
Lauren Ritchie reports for the Orlando Sentinel – “Folks, how long do you think the Floridan aquifer… can put up with this abuse and still slake our thirst? In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Orlando sentinel reporters were quoting officials of the St. Johns River Water Management District saying that the underground water level had dropped up to 10 feet in the area below The Villages. They warned that the sweet water of the upper aquifer would be running out – right about now, actually. Yet, St. Johns officials today say there are 850 million gallons a day… more to withdraw if it’s done with care… ‘Where you pull the water from can make a difference. We’re looking at ways of distributing out the withdrawals so they don’t have as large an impact,’ said Mike Register, division director of Water Supply Planning at the St. Johns… In Register’s answer… lies the problem. The water planner and his colleagues are looking under every rock and using every trick they can devise to string out the water supply… Gross, executive director of the Florida Defenders of the Environment, held Register’s job until shortly after he declined in June 2014 to change a water-supply plan to show that there was plenty of the wet stuff left for anyone who wanted it. ‘They didn’t want it changed because there was anything inaccurate… with the plan – it was purely 100 percent political,’ said Gross… ‘It was known by everyone in the agency that we had more demand than groundwater…’… ‘…If we want to protect what’s left, we can’t issue more permits,’ Gross said.” Read Stop letting developments such as The Villages suck up water
Peter Haden reports for WLRN – “A new study by South Florida researchers finds a simple tactic can save a lot of wasted water. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, around half of household water use in the U.S. is used to water lawns. And much of the time the lawns don’t even need it… Survis and her research partner, FAU Department of Geosciences Associate Professor Tara Root, had a hypothesis: If people knew – in real time- their lawn didn’t need water, they wouldn’t water it. So the researchers came up with an information delivery system… Signs. The pair installed a single sign at the entrance point of three separate neighborhoods in Wellington. Each sign had two numbers. The first: a tally of the last seven days’ rainfall. The second: a reminder of how much water most South Florida lawns need – one inch per week. At the bottom of the sign, a simple question: Is rainfall alone meeting your lawn water needs? The result? Lawn water usage was cut in half.” Read Floridians Want to Conserve Water… Just Give them a Sign!
The Orlando Sentinel Editorial Board writes – “Freshman Congressman Darren Soto… has asked U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to begin the process of designating the Kissimee River as a Wild and Scenic River. This modest request deserves enthusiastic support from Florida’s other members of Congress of both parties, as well as Scott… This designation is intended to preserve rivers in their natural conditions, ruling out dams and other water projects that would adversely impact them… The Kissimmee is a naturally winding waterway, but after hurricanes caused widespread flooding in the region in the 1940s, Congress authorized the Army Corps of Engineers to straighten and shorten the river… This historically misguided project… dried out tens of thousands of acres of wetlands, decimating habitat… It also sped up the flow of the river, sharply diminishing its natural capacity to absorb nitrogen and phosphorous nutrient pollution… before it emptied into Lake Okeechobee. In the 1990s, Congress directed the… Corps to restore much of the… River… Already it has brought back more than 60,000 acres of wetlands and spurred a wildlife renaissance. A Wild and Scenic designation… would… protect taxpayers and their huge investment in the project.” Read Protect taxpayers’ investment in Kissimmee River restoration
Hannah Morse reports for the Bradenton Herald – “The Fifth District Court of Appeal issued a per curiam affirmed decision… in a case regarding developer Pat Neal’s request to fill in about one acre of wetlands at his Harbor Sound project, meaning the judges agreed with the lower court’s decision. Former Manatee County Commissioner Joe McClash was the sole appellant in the case against the Southwest Florida Water Management District. Originally, environmental groups ManaSota-88, Sierra Club, Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage and Suncoast Waterkeeper were listed on the petition but were taken off to achieve more standing in the case. In 2014, the… district approved a permit for Neal… to impact 1.05 acres of the 1.9 acres of wetlands near his four-home compound… on Perico Island… The decision for the permit was put up against an administrative hearing and Judge Bram Canter advised the permit be revoked… But the decision was ultimately up to the district’s governing board, which at the time included friend and fellow Manatee County developer Carlos Beruff… In a vote of 10-1, the permit was Neal’s and Beruff resigned from the board the following day. It then headed all the way up to the Fifth District Court of Appeals…” Read Appellate court rules in favor of Harbor Sound wetland permit
Hannah Morse reports for the Bradenton Herald – “For the second time, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers… denied Long Bar Pointe LLLP a permit for a wetland mitigation bank that would have been adjacent to developer Carlos Beruff’s proposed Aqua by the Bay development… The DEP has given Long Bar Pointe LLLP a notice of intent to issue a permit for a mitigation bank, which is subject to a challenge by local environmental groups to go before an administrative hearing in September.” Read Corps denies Long Bar Pointe’s second mitigation bank proposal
Brady Dennis and Juliet Eilperin report for The Washington Post – “The Trump administration is debating whether to launch a government wide effort to question the science of climate change, an effort that critics say is an attempt to undermine the long-established consensus human activity is fueling the Earth’s rising temperatures… [O]fficials are discussing whether the initiative would stretch across numerous federal agencies that rely on such science… ” Read EPA chief pushing governmentwide effort to question climate change science
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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