FCC News Brief - August 6, 2017

Joseph Bennington-Castro reports for NBC News – “ ‘Fundamentally, there is an issue with the concept of building walls to stop flooding,’ says Rachel Gittman, an environmental scientist and ecologist at East Carolina University… Fourteen percent of all continental U.S. shoreline has been armored with… “hard” structures – and that number is rising… But there are big problems with these bulwarks… [I]nstead of damping wave energy, these structures simply deflect it to adjacent areas… [E]ven carefully constructed barriers are prone to failure… These barriers compromise delicate coastal habitats and reduce biodiversity… A better approach… is to create so-called “living shorelines.”… The components of a living shoreline are site-specific. For shores with relatively calm waters, the best bet is often a water-absorbing salt marsh, possibly fortified with sill-like ledges made of rocks, oyster shell bags, or “logs” made of coconut fiber. Alternatively, a shoreline may benefit from the planting of mangroves, which develop hardy root systems firmly anchored in mud… Salt marshes and mangroves trap sediment and organic matter, allowing them to grow in elevation. That affords rising protection against inundation. Similarly, the growth in height of oyster reefs can outpace sea level rise… [J]ust 15 horizontal feet of marshy terrain can absorb 50 percent of incoming wave energy… Gittman’s research suggests that marshes are significantly better than bulkheads at protecting shorelines. In a survey of three coastal regions of North Carolina, Hurricane Irene damaged 76 percent of bulkheads. Shorelines protected by marshes sustained no damage.” Read Walls Won’t Save Out Cities from Rising Seas. Here’s What Will

David Fleshler reports for the Sun Sentinel – “Burrowing owls get to watch as their homes are destroyed. The much-loved species, with an admirable family life…, can’t be killed under state law. But landowners can scare them off and collapse their burrows… Among the recent projects receiving state permits to do so: a strip mall in North Lauderdale, a plan to improve runways and taxiways at Palm Beach International Airport, a housing development at the former Hillcrest golf course in Hollywood and a construction project at Boca Raton Airport. The state wildlife commission is now working on increasing their protection, since their numbers have continued to decline… [M]any owls don’t survive the loss of their homes, which leaves them vulnerable to threats such as hawks, cats and cars. ‘When their burrows are plugged, they simply stay in the area,’ said Kelly Heffernan, a biologist who founded the South Florida Audubon Society’s Project Perch, which builds artificial burrows for owls… ‘Pope Francis wrote the encyclical To Give Praise… he’s really writing what has been church teaching forever. God did not ask us to blow up the world. He asked us to take care of it[,’ said Rev. Bob Tywoniak.].. Last January the commission changed the owl’s conservation status from species of special concern to threatened, a status that comes with a higher level of protection. The wildlife commission… is expected to receive a draft of the new owl protection proposal in December.” Read Beloved owls struggle to survive as they’re squeezed out of burrows

Lidia Dinkova reports for the TC Palm – “[Sewall’s Point] has opted out of pursuing a septic-to-sewer conversion as outlined by Martin County. Instead, it’s looking into whether and how it can call for periodic inspections of septic tanks… Martin County Utilities had outlined an $11.6 million septic-to-sewer conversion plan. Under the proposal, each property owner on septic would have paid $695 annually, inclusive of interest and other fees, over 20 years… Separately, each property owner would have to pay for the cost of removing the septic tanks and connecting his or her home to the mainline sewer… The county, which would have been the service provider, would have contributed $1 million toward the capital cost…” Read Sewall’s Point stops short of accepting sewer extension, looks into septic inspections

Nancy Smith writes for Sunshine State News – “Sewall’s Point, one of the wealthiest towns in Florida – the one at the epicenter of blue-green algae on the Treasure Coast – this week turned down septic-to-sewer conversion… Sewall’s Point, population 1,996, where every property on this pencil-thin, manicured Martin County peninsula is feet away from either the Indian River or the St. Lucie River… Every year more than 4.4 million pounds of nitrogen from upwards of 600,000 septic tanks leaching into tidal creeks and canals wind up in the 156-mile-long Indian River Lagoon – of which Sewall’s Point is part… Instead of jumping at the county’s outline for an $11.6 million septic-to-sewer conversion, [residents] argued that forcing residents to convert to sewer was a violation of private property rights… Here are people whose waterfront property – median value $714,000 – is increasing in value… Sewall’s Pointers should be setting an example for other Martin residents who are less privileged yet choose to do the right thing for the waterways and the Florida environment they love… Septic-to-sewer conversion an affront to private property rights? Please. It’s an excuse to hug a status quo that is destroying a vital component of our state… Next time the blue goo settles along their shoreline, they’d best lay low and stay quiet as mice. In my book anyway, they don’t get to complain.” Read Wealthy Waterfront Town at ‘Algae Central’ Decides to Keep Septic Tanks

Andy Reid reports for the Sun Sentinel – “Growing flooding risks west of Fort Lauderdale and Miami… triggered new emergency measures to deal with rising Everglades waters… Emergency pumping started in late June to send more water into drier portions of Everglades National Park, but that hasn’t been enough to address flooding threats, according to federal officials. New plans call for holding more water in western Palm Beach County and northern Broward County instead of letting it flow south to high-water areas… Canals that move water east continue to work at maximum capacity, draining water out to sea.” Read Growing Everglades flooding threats trigger more emergency measures

Kent Justice reports for News 4 Jax – “Nearly 300,000 gallons of raw sewage spilled in the Jacksonville area after heavy rainfall over the weekend...” Read Rains cause nearly 300K gallons of sewage to overflow

The Associated Press reports – “Remnants of Tropical Storm Emily drenched Miami and Miami Beach with 6 inches of rain Tuesday, flooding some streets until water rose above vehicle doors. In downtown Miami, a courthouse and parking garage remained closed Wednesday due to flood damage.” Read Miami Mayor: Upgrades Needed to Fight Floods, Rising Seas

Jake Martin reports for The St. Augustine Record – “Local proponents of clean energy say going solar has never been more affordable to the average homeowner, thanks largely to improved technology and a 30 percent federal tax credit. A new effort called the St. Johns Solar Cooperative looks to expand on those savings… According to FL SUN, solar co-ops can provide discounts of about 20 percent, based on bulk purchasing by residents and organizations with a shared interest in making the transition… Residents and organizations interested can sign up for free and there is no obligation to install the panels… Mayor Nancy Shaver said she thinks there’s some considerable support for seeing more solar in St. Augustine… She said the city has looked at its buildings, and will look again, to see if, for example, the parking garage could benefit from using solar shades over cars on the top level.” Read Want to go green and save some green? St. Johns Solar Cooperative ready to launch





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Upcoming Environmental Events    


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. For more information, click here.

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 12, 4:00 pm – Participate in the Hot City-Cool City Walking Tour in Pensacola. During the walk, participants will explore old and new ways that cities can adapt to the higher temperatures and heavier rainfall of our changing climate. For more information email 350pensacola@gmail.com, call (850) 687 – 9968, or 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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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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