FCC News Brief - July 7, 2017

Brent Batten reports for the Naples Daily News – “Moving in opposing directions are the environmental community, including the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, Audubon of the Western Everglades and others, versus a coalition of community groups led by the Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce and the Community Foundation of Collier County… [T]hey both claim to want the same thing – more money to buy land for environmental preservation… Earlier this year, Collier County commissioners came up with a plan to revive the Conservation Collier land-buying program… It includes putting a .25-mil property tax on the November 2018 ballot… At the time that plan was being discussed, the chamber and its partners were studying the idea of a local sales tax to raise money for a variety of needs… A detailed spending plan would have to be worked out, with some of the money potentially going to help with affordable housing, workforce development and environmental land acquisition… The environmental side likes the funding mechanism in place for Conservation Collier. They’re confident it will win voter approval. They see no need to tie its fate to a larger question.” Read Coalitions face off on Collier conservation, roads, housing, more

Pete Stauffer writes for the Miami Herald – “Beaches are the workhorse engines that drive coastal economies. From Maine to Hawaii, beaches attract an endless stream of visitors who patronize local hotels, shops, and restaurants, contributing more than $100 billion to the Gross Domestic Product every year. However, the nation’s coasts are under threat. In recent weeks, the Trump administration has announced plans to expand offshore drilling, eliminate beach water quality grants, and reverse climate change policies. These proposals will cause permanent damage to the nation’s magnificent coasts if we don’t hold our federal leaders accountable… On the Atlantic coast… more than 120 municipalities, 1,200 elected officials, and an alliance representing 35,000 businesses and 500,000 fishing families have publicly opposed offshore drilling… More than 100 House Democrats and Republicans recently signed a letter urging Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke not to allow any new offshore oil and gas drilling… Funding for the grants program is critical to providing beachgoers with the information they need to avoid getting sick at the beach… If beaches are contaminated and unsafe, it will not only take away a beloved American pastime, coastal tourism and recreation economies that provide 2.15 million jobs nationwide also will suffer.” Read Who will protect nation’s beaches from Trump administration policies?

Diana Umpierre writes for the Sun Sentinel – “[T]o our dismay, a few weeks ago, without public notice, Gov. Rick Scott’s hand-picked board members at the South Florida Water Management District decided to go it alone on a plan to dispose of billions of gallons of untreated freshwater permanently by pumping it deep into the earth – water needed for the Everglades, Florida Bay and our drinking water supply… Deep injection wells will divert dollars needed to restore wetlands, to supply water during droughts, to irrigate our crops, to send more clean water south…, to replenish the drinking water aquifer for millions, and to fight saltwater intrusion and sea level rise… Let’s demand our money be spent on real Everglades restoration.” Read Deep injection wells would waste water and money

The TC Palm Editorial Board writes – “[T]he back pumping… underscores the need for fixes to the system… Some of [the water sent into the lake] was irrigation water running off regional farms, laden with pollutants that, added to those already in the lake, could trigger algal blooms. Smith (SFWMD spokesman) insisted ‘minimal’ farmland water was being back pumped into the lake, and said the district had asked farmers to minimize the water pumped off their fields… Gary Goforth… said if the reservoir (south of Lake Okeechobee) were already in place, it could have absorbed all the water that was back pumped into the lake… Florida has spent decades trying to undo the damage caused when we decided that man knew better than Mother Nature, when we replaced the natural system of water flow with concrete and culverts and levees and retention basins. We might never be free of the consequences of these decisions. But every step toward restoration of the natural system is a move in the right direction.” Read Back pumping into Lake O underscores the need for reservoir

Eric Staats reports for the Naples Daily News – “A Florida panther was euthanized Monday after being struck by a vehicle in Collier County… The panther… was the 16th found dead this year. Twelve of those 16 were killed on roads…” Read Florida panther euthanized after being hit by vehicle on Immokalee Road

Nan Kavanaugh writes for First Coast Magazine – “We believe it is time for the St. Johns to be taken seriously as a natural asset, not an industrial waterway. Read our interview with Riverkeeper Lisa Rinaman below and reach out to Mayor Lenny Curry and our city council and let them know your thoughts on the dredging project and how this is a step backward for transforming our riverfront… [Lisa Rinaman:] We have lost so many tools in our tool box due to deregulation, but we are working with so many committed people across Northeast Florida and the state to hold the line… In the past 5 years, we have lost 4 decades worth of water quality protections due to an attack on regulations.” Read My Coast: Lisa Rinaman, the St. Johns Riverkeeper

Tom Palmer writes for The Ledger – “I’ve read that government officials have given the go-ahead to continue python hunts from now on. Fair enough, but I think the hunt should be expanded to include another troublesome reptile that is causing ecological problems in south Florida. I am speaking of the iguanas… [T]he out of control population at Bahia Honda State Park… was blamed for the disappearance of two uncommon species of butterflies, the Miami blue and the nickerbean blue. The lizards ate nickerbean and other plants where these butterflies laid their eggs and where caterpillars would grow to adulthood to replenish the population if left relatively unmolested by predators. As a result, the short-lived insects died out at the park and are virtually gone from the United States. There are also a number of other plants in south Florida that are hosts to other species that have declined, and predation by iguanas add to the ecological stress in this part of Florida already beset by habitat loss…” Read Iguanas are another troublemaker

Brad Rogers writes for the Ocala Star Banner – “[O]ur Florida legislature… can’t fulfill the people’s will (see Amendment 1), can’t get along (see this past session) and can’t get a host of critical public services up to snuff (see public schools, mental health and prisons). What they can do, however, is pull off power grabs and serve individual and group special interests… Florida government is essentially run by five people: the governor, the Senate president, the House speaker and the appropriations chairmen in each legislative chamber… Ask any legislator why they don’t get this done or that done and they will tell you – off the record – that nothing passes the Florida Legislature without the blessing of the House speaker and/or the Senate president. And should you decide to oppose either of those men on a bill, the wayward independent thinker will be punished by having one of this bills or projects suddenly scratched from the chamber’s agenda… So if you have ever wondered why, say, Sen. Dennis Baxley has never sponsored a major piece of water legislation, given the issue’s importance in our community, the answer is that on such issues bills are crafted only with the blessings of the speaker or the president… It’s a sorry state of affairs when elected representatives who are sent to do the people’s bidding are reduced to near irrelevance because the tyrants in charge are omnipotent. I don’t know how we change the system. It is corrupt and it does not serve the best interests of Floridians… As for the sheep who call themselves lawmakers, grow a backbone. We need representation, not tyranny.” Read Tyranny in Tallahassee





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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’s 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.

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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