FCC News Brief - August 21, 2017

Cleveland Tinker reports for The Gainesville Sun – “Poe Springs may become eligible for funding to help its water quality if Alachua County’s request to have it designated as a ‘priority focus area’ is approved by the state… The County Commission… unanimously approved sending a letter to Noah Valenstein, secretary of the FDEP, requesting Poe Springs receive the PFA designation because it would ‘establish a more unified framework for public and private entities to work to protect and restore our Santa Fe River springsheds.’… A PFA, according to state statute, is an area where the Florida Aquifer is more vulnerable to pollutants and where there is known connection between the aquifer and an Outstanding Florida Spring. Poe Springs is designated as one of 30 on the list of Outstanding Florida Springs.” Read Alachua County seeks money to help Poe Springs

Eric Staats reports for the Naples Daily News – “[P]anthers have injured or killed 83 animals in 38 separate incidents so far this year… The most common prey animals are goats, but panthers also have preyed on calves, miniature horses, geese, pigs, cats and an alpaca… Almost all of the cases have occurred in Golden Gate Estates… Lotz (of FWC) said he doesn’t have a single explanation for the ‘big spike;’ panthers could be preying on more animals or more people could be reporting attacks... The FWC has increased its education outreach, even hiring an outreach coordinator, and Lotz said that could account for increased prey reports… Lotz… goes door-to-door… to distribute fliers about how to panther-proof animal enclosures and how to keep bears away. The problem of preying panthers has prompted the U.S. Agriculture Department and the Conservancy of Southwest Florida to set up programs to pay owners when their animals are killed. Since 2011, the Conservancy has paid out $17,000 to compensate cattle ranchers for lost calves and to help pay to panther-proof backyard livestock pens, senior environmental policy specialist Amber Crooks said. She said such programs help farmers and ranchers better co-exist with Southwest Florida’s native predators… The Natural Resources Conservation Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission have been talking about setting up another program that would pay ranchers for their ‘ecological services.’” Read Reports of Florida panthers preying on domestic animals, cattle on record pace

The Associated Press reports – “An endangered Florida panther was struck and killed by a vehicle... in Hendry County… It’s the 16th fatal collision this year, out of 21 total panther deaths… Florida panthers once roamed the entire southeastern United States, but now their habitat mostly is confined to southwest Florida. Only about 230 Florida panthers remain in the wild.” Read Florida panther killed by vehicle; 21st death this year

Jerry Iannelli reports for Miami New Times – “The Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) has exactly one job: act as a check on the state’s powerful local electricity monopolies such as Florida Power & Light… Every single politician deciding who gets to sit on the (PSC) board has taken thousands of dollars in campaign donations from power and fossil-fuel companies. According to the Energy and Policy Institute (EPI), a private utility watchdog, the 11 lawmakers who have had a hand in appointing the people sitting on the PSC have taken a combined $166,400 from utility and oil-industry sources… The (PSC) board is in charge of approving utilities’ requests to build new power plants and raise rates on consumers, and the PSC has been accused of being too lenient on companies such as FPL by rubber-stamping rate hikes and plans for environmentally sketchy power plants… In 2014, the PSC voted to let power companies gut efficiency guidelines by 90 percent and to end solar-rebate programs by the next year… To fight climate change, Florida needs a Public Service Commission free from power-company influence.” Read Power Companies Pumped $166,400 to Florida Lawmakers Who Control Their Watchdog Group

Amanda D. Rodewald writes for the Hill – “The Agriculture Adjustment Act, also known as the farm bill, provides crop payments, insurance subsidies and loans to many American farmers. However,… the bill has a much wider scope that includes forestry, energy and conservation programs. A new report called, The State of the Birds 2017: A Farm Bill Special Report, highlighted how this strategic federal investment not only supports the livelihoods of farmers, ranchers, and forest owners, but also protects critical ecosystem services and biodiversity. The most recent farm bill is set to expire in 2018 – something that could have enormous consequences for the environment.” Read Farm bill pays high dividends for people and the environment

The Miami Herald Editorial Board writes – “[T]he flooding that engulfed Miami Beach and Miami’s Mary Brickell Village area after seven inches of torrential rain fell on [August 1st], sadly, reveals we’re far from being ready to handle a deluge – from the sky or the sea… Worse hit was Miami Beach, where people splashed through standing water that rose to their knees and cars were submerged up to the wheel wells during the afternoon rush hour. Underground garages flooded, and waters swept into local businesses. So what happened? Why didn’t Miami Beach’s highly touted $500 million anti-flooding pump program… work? Well, it seems it did, until some pumps got overwhelmed and others were shut down when electricity went out… ‘We’re prepared for sea-level rise, and sea-level rise and rain, but not tropical storm rains that suddenly dump seven inches of rain – after the National Weather Service announced just two inches,’ Mayor Philip Levine told the Herald Editorial Board. The mayor makes a valid point. Acts of nature are hard to hold back. But isn’t that what climate change is all about?... ‘The motto here is: We learn as we go along,’ Levine told the Board.” Read Flooding shows fighting sea-level rise in South Florida will be a slog

Mira Abed reports for the Los Angeles Times – “Suddenly, you realize you’re talking to a climate change skeptic. You want to help your acquaintance see the light. But how? We asked climate scientists and communicators how to have constructive discussions about climate change. They offered both general advice about how to engage and specific information to rebut doubters’ claims.” Read What should you say to a climate change skeptic?

George Bennett reports for my Palm Beach Post – “Florida Gov. Rick Scott and House Speaker Richard Corcoran… called… for amending the state constitution to make it tougher for legislators to increase taxes and fees. Scott and Corcoran… appeared together… to propose a requirement that any tax hike be approved by a supermajority, rather than a simple majority, of both the House and Senate. A supermajority is often defined as three-fifths or two-thirds, but Scott’s office said that and other details are still being worked out. A Scott spokesman said the governor plans to work with both the Legislature and Florida’s Constitution Revision Commission to put a question on the November 2018 ballot, where it would need approval from 60 percent of voters to be added to the constitution.” Read Governor, House speaker propose making it harder to increase taxes





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Upcoming Environmental Events    

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.

August 31, 6:30 pm – Attend the “Get the Dirt Out Workshop” in Jacksonville. Become a water watershed protector when you join this program designed to educate citizens about Duval County’s “dirt laws” and train them to be watchdogs in their neighborhoods to keep dirt out of our waterways. For more information, click here. To register, click here.

September 5, 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. September’s lecture is on Springs Advocacy with guest speaker Aliki Moncrief, Executive Director of Florida Conservation Voters Education Fund. 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.

September 12, 6:30 pm – Attend a screening of “Troubled Waters,” in Orlando followed by a panel discussion featuring Seminole County Commissioner Lee Constantine, St. Johns Riverkeeper Lisa Rinaman, and Professor James C. Adamski. For more information and to register, click here.

September 12, 7:00 pm – Attend in Algal Bloom Awareness Presentation in Orange Park. Aquatic ecologist Robert Storm Burks will explain what causes blue-green algal blooms and why they may be toxic. Learn how to report algae occurrences using Water Rangers, a new web-based app. For more information, click here.

September 16, 9:00 AM – Participate in the Big Talbot Island Cleanup. For more information, click here.

September 23, 9:00 AM – Attend “Solar Rocks for the Equinox” at Rum 138 (2070 SW County Road 138) in Fort White. The event will feature solar experts and exhibitors to showcase affordable solar energy solutions. The event is free and open to the public. Live music and local food options will be available. For more information, contact Chris Mericle (cjmericle@gmail.com, (386) 855 – 5096) or Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson (merrillee.malwitz-jipson@sierraclub.org, (352) 222 – 8893).



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About the FCC: The Florida Conservation Coalition (FCC) is composed of 80 conservation-minded organizations and over two thousand individuals devoted to protecting and conserving Florida’s land, fish and wildlife, and water resources.  

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