FCC News Brief - August 28, 2017

The Naples Daily News Editorial Board writes – “In spring 2016, our editorial board urged Collier leaders to follow the path of their Lee peers and get the movement going toward asking voters to reinstate Conservation Collier’s property tax. That didn’t happen… It’s nearly fall 2017, yet nothing has changed to alter our editorial board’s call for additional land preservation in the face of renewed growth. In fact, one development after another… further confirms to us this is a prudent step… This isn’t a one-year delay for Conservation Collier. Should voters approve it in fall 2018, five years will have passed in collections of the Conservation Collier tax that’s been overwhelmingly supported by voters twice in the past. That’s not to mention the 75 percent voter approval in Collier in 2014 on a land conservation amendment to the state constitution… So what’s changed significantly to bolster our early 2016 call for reinstating a Conservation Collier tax? +In April 2016, dozens of speakers at a federal hearing raised concerns about a 50-year proposal determining where development might go across 152,000 acres in northeast Collier… Property owners have rights; if they aren’t going to build on developable land, selling to Conservation Collier should remain an option. That takes money. +A November 2016 report… noted demand for water will double in the state by 2070. The report said compact development, more land preservation and water conservation measures could reduce that trend by 27 percent. +A June report… graded most (estuaries) a D or D-minus for water quality in Collier and Lee counties. Upland land conservation and mangrove preservation help protect the quality of our waters.” Read Conservation Collier important to support

Zach Murdock reports for the Herald Tribune – “The Sarasota County Commission ultimately voted 3-2 to deny… Jim Gabbert’s proposal to recycle construction and demolition debris… near [an] environmentally sensitive watershed and park area… (Commissioner) Hines succinctly summarized the crux of the…issue… ‘This is a… needed business. We like the idea of recycling, separating and not going to the landfill,’ he said. ‘…[I]t’s the location.’… Gabbert had proposed purchasing 10.3 acres of undeveloped county-owned land to combine with an already-approved waste transfer facility for the site immediately to the west. Combined, it would create a full-service recycling center in a central location to encourage contractors’ recycling as development continues to boom here... But the property is about 1,000 feet from the Celery Fields, a stormwater management system the county has spent millions to improve and that is now a wildly popular park, recreation area and bird watching area. This proximity spurred neighborhood activists, environmentalists and birders across the county to organize a campaign against the proposal.” Read County narrowly denies recycling near Celery Fields

John Cassani and Gene Gibson report for the News Press – “[A]t a recent Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) meeting to discuss its five-year plan to reduce nitrogen pollution in the Caloosahatchee Estuary, DEP demonstrated its failure to put the (green) monster on a slim-fast diet. Instead, DEP allows the monster to secretly gorge on nutrients. These nutrients, especially nitrogen, fuel the growth of blue/green algal blooms… DEP repeatedly says that its plan, started in 2012, has attained 50% of the targeted nitrogen load reduction. What DEP does not say is that only 10% of the total reduction occurred since 2012. DEP gave those local governments responsible for nitrogen reduction eleven years of credits for projects dating back to 2001. DEP completed only one load reduction project in 2016 – representing 0.2% progress… The plan calculates nitrogen loading from 2004. As such, progress is evaluated against a 2004 loading rate without accounting for the increased load resulting from cumulative and accelerated development. Rather than the 50% reduction DEP claims, the actual nitrogen load probably proves greater now than in 2012… It’s time to stop feeding the monster.” Read DEP allows nitrogen monster to grow

The Associated Press reports – “An endangered Florida panther was struck and killed by a vehicle… It’s the 17th fatal collision this year, out of 22 total panther deaths.” Read Florida panther killed by vehicle; 22nd death this year

Tyler Treadway reports for the TC Palm – “The state legislation authorizing the reservoir set an Aug. 1 deadline for the Corps and the district to start working together on the $1.6 billion project. Col. Jason A. Kirk, who heads the Corps’ Florida operations, asked for another month to make sure the Corps’ participation was ‘legally sufficient, policy compliant and implementable.’ As of Thursday afternoon, ‘no decision has been made…,’ Corps spokesman John Campbell said a week from the delayed deadline… ‘It’s not just about changing the depth of a reservoir from 4 feet to 12 feet,’ Campbell said. ‘A deeper reservoir means more water. We have to figure out if we can carry all that water in an environmentally responsible way. Right now, we’re trying to do our due diligence.’ Despite another possible delay, ‘nobody here is panicking at this point,’ said water district spokesman Randy Smith. ‘We’ll continue to work with the Corps and encourage them to move forward. We trust our federal partners are absolutely capable of pulling this together.’” Read Army Corps not ready to help SFWMD on Lake Okeechobee reservoir

Malinda J. Horton writes for the Sun Sentinel – “As top travel destinations in Florida, our 11 national parks serve as an integral boost to the economy and jobs… For every dollar spent on maintaining our national parks, there is a $10 return. In 2016, 10.9 million park visitors spent an estimated $653 million in local gateway regions while visiting NPS lands in Florida. This supported approximately 10,000 jobs, $347.1 million in labor income and $949.1 million in economic output to the state’s economy, positively impacting the camping, hotel, restaurant, retail, recreation and transportation sectors. Unfortunately, with this popularity comes increased wear and tear on facilities, roads, bridges and trails, and some of Florida’s greatest treasures need our support… Of the estimated $11.3 billion maintenance backlog (for national parks) across the country, more than $253 million is needed… in Florida. The time is long overdue to invest in park infrastructure. This year, bipartisan legislation has been introduced… to bring much needed assistance to the National Park Service. The National Park Service Legacy Act (S. 751/H.R. 2584) would provide dedicated annual funding to address deferred maintenance needs. Florida Reps. Carlos Curbelo, Darren Soto and Ted Deutch have stepped up to the plate and cosponsored the House version of the bill… If you believe in restoring America’s national parks for future generations and the health of our economy and tourism industry, we urge you to contact your congressional leaders and tell them to support the National Park Service Legacy Act…” Read Unmet needs in national parks may hurt Florida tourism

John Podesta reports for the Washington Post – “[W]here earlier presidents have shown respect for our past and commitment to our future, President Trump is displaying a stinginess of mind, a hollowness of spirit and a contempt for future generations… [T]his week, the president made clear that ‘history and culture’ worth protecting do not include the archeological sites that are sacred to Native Americans, the mountains where Geronimo and Billy the Kid took refuge, or the ocean canyons and coral reefs that are haunted by sharks and shipwrecks… Trump and Zinke are pursuing the largest-ever elimination of protected areas in U.S. history and, in so doing, breaking the American promise that national parks, wilderness areas and national monuments are to be permanently protected for future generations… Ultimately, these decisions are about more than just who is for and who is against; at their core they reflect our moral commitment to our children and their children… ‘Everybody needs beauty as well as bread,’ conservationist John Muir said, ‘places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike.’” Read Trump’s chilling contempt for future generations

Alan Bjerga reports for Bloomberg – “As U.S. trade representatives sit down with their Canadian and Mexican counterparts to renegotiate Nafta, fruit and vegetable farmers in the Southeast have emerged as a staunch component of the anti-free-trade movement… Florida, where crops can be harvested in the dead of winter, has emerged as the epicenter of anti-Nafta sentiment in U.S. agriculture… Florida made year-round fruits and vegetables possible in U.S. grocery stores. ‘There were times of the year when Florida vegetables fed the whole nation,’ says Reggie Brown, executive vice president of the Florida Tomato Exchange… Increasingly, though, the fruits and vegetables Americans buy come from Mexico, not Florida… It’s not only labor costs that make it cheaper to grow fruit in Mexico. Pesticide rules also differ, another competitive disadvantage for fruit and vegetable farmers… Florida growers have a list of demands they’d like a new trade deal to address, including putting quotas on Mexican imports, aligning Mexico’s food safety and environmental rules with the U.S.’s, raising wages for Mexican workers, and demanding the country cut its farm subsidies.” Read Why Florida Farmers Want to Kill Nafta






From Our Readers


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Job Openings

Organizing Representative in Miami for Sierra Club Florida

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 Protect Weeki Wachee Springs; Stop the 7 Diamonds Mine in Pasco County

Tell Congress to Stop Sabal Trail

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Stop the Port Canaveral Rail Extension Project

Paynes Prairie in danger

Help Florida Become a “Pay for Shade” state



Upcoming Environmental Events    

August 29, 6:00 pm – Join the Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute at the North Florida Springs Environmental Center in High Springs for an Open House and Garden Reveal. We will have hors d'oeuvres, drinks, and live music as we reveal our new garden area. This event is free and open to the public. 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 22-23, 9:00 AM – Attend the Florida Wildflower Symposium in Orlando. This is Florida’s only event focusing exclusively on native wildflowers and the wildlife depending on them. The event features field trips; garden walks; presentations on conservation issues, bees, butterflies and other wildlife; and hands-on workshops on propagation and wildflower meadow installation. 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).

October 11, 12:45 pm – Attend the Villages Environmental Discussions Group meeting at the Belvedere Library Community Room in The Villages. Gary Kuhl and Amy Giannotti will be speaking. Gary Kuhl is a former Executive Director of the SWFWMD and Amy Giannotti is the Water & Lakes Manager in Winter Park, FL. For more information and to RSVP, email resourcewisdom@gmail.com.

October 11, 7:00 pm – Attend “Losing the Grand Canyon: FAF Presents an Unforgettable Evening with Kevin Fedarko” in Orlando. Kevin is one of 24 who have hiked the entire 800-mile journey through the Canyon. What he learned along the way should concern all of us in Florida who love our environmental treasures. The evening will be moderated by Diane Roberts and tickets are $100. For more information and to buy tickets, click here.



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