FCC News Brief - September 15, 2017

Patrick J. McDonnell reports for the Los Angeles Times – “Hurricane Irma caused large-scale damage on its rampage through Florida, but this impoverished, largely Latino farming hub in the southwestern part of the state was among the areas hardest hit. While aid was being rushed to the Florida Keys and other ravaged coastal zones, as of Monday evening there was no sign of any help arriving to this rural backwater… Immokalee… is a place apart in Florida… Its poverty rate is among the state’s highest… yet it is only 50 miles or so from seaside Naples, one of the state’s wealthiest communities… There was no electricity, power lines were down on streets and in yards… Roofs were blown off many of the trailer homes and ill-constructed shacks that pass as housing here for the multitudes of farmworkers, mostly from Central America and Mexico, but with a considerable contingent from Haiti… Few government officials have arrived to assess the damage, residents said. There was widespread confusion about who can provide help.” Read These migrant workers earn $350 a week in the fields. Now Irma has destroyed their homes

David Bauerlein reports for The Florida Times Union – “JEA once again faced… problems with power failures in its sewage treatment system. The utility reported sewer spills at three locations, plus a loss of disinfection at four treatment plants, that resulted in partially treated wastewater flowing for several hours into rivers and creeks… JEA did not say how many gallons of partially treated wastewater flowed from the four plants, which are operating normally again… St. Johns Riverkeeper Lisa Rinaman said… Hurricane Irma ‘also overwhelmed other wastewater and industrial facilities’ along the length of the river. ‘Since Jacksonville is downstream, the river in Northeast Florida is experiencing a mix of pollution from multiple sources,’ she said. ‘It is key that the state implements widespread water quality testing to track the contamination.’” Read JEA hustles to get power to 145,000 customers, stop sewage woes

Karin Brulliard reports for The Washington Post – “[T]he Key deer [is] a petite and endangered species that has existed on [the Keys], and nowhere else, since the end of the last ice age… After poaching and habitat loss led to their near extinction in the 1950s, a federal recovery effort helped the deer population rebound to somewhere between 700 and 1,000. It hasn’t always been easy: In the past year, they’ve battled a nasty flesh-eating screwworm that eventually killed 135 members… Vehicles killed about the same number in 2016… [H]ow the… population fared (Hurricane Irma) remains to be seen… Key deer… have been on the islands for 13,000 years, weathered many a previous hurricane and are strong swimmers… Clark said he’s more worried about other threatened and endangered species on the refuges he manages. Among the most vulnerable are Lower Keys marsh rabbits, whose little legs would have prevented them from moving fast or far to seek shelter. The very rare Miami blue butterfly, which was thought to have gone extinct after Hurricane Andrew in 1992, might also be in trouble. ‘They exist in very small pockets,’ Clark said. ‘Their host plants could be damaged.’ What’s more… a disturbed, post-hurricane environment can be a welcome mat for invasive plants and animals, both of which can harm their native species.” Read A tiny endangered deer lives only in the Florida Keys. Here’s what we know about its fate.

Cindy Swirko reports for The Gainesville Sun – “A proposed Ichetucknee Springs State Park management plan that was set to be voted on… has been put on hold so a more in-depth study of the park, including its aquatic vegetation, wildlife, water quality and other features, can be done. Leaders of the Ichetucknee Alliance, a river protection watchdog group, said the delay is a positive move and believes a letter the group wrote regarding the plan had an impact. The letter recommended that the park ban tubing on the upper third of the river while still allowing kayaking and paddleboarding. The group favors continued tubing on the lower two-thirds of the river. Ichetucknee Alliance members believe tubers are killing the aquatic grass that is crucial to fish and other wildlife in the upper river… The river has less flow now and is more shallow.  That leads to damaged or destroyed vegetation, though increased nitrates in groundwater coming out of springs has harmed the plants as well.” Read New study to delay Ichetucknee management plan vote

Robert Knight writes for The Gainesville Sun – “DEP is… negligent by not adopting a single, unified nitrate pollution standard for groundwater that protects the long-term health of both springs and humans. Florida’s water management districts are… guilty of… permitting excessive groundwater withdrawals while publicly owned springs are drying up… These agencies need to be reminded that their actions speak louder than their words… [F]or the past year, the Florida Springs Council has been meeting with senior DEP staff to beef up springs basin management action plans so they are consistent with Florida’s laws that require substantial reductions in springs nutrient pollution within the next 20 years. It is promising that DEP is beginning to incorporate [our] recommendations in their newer spring basin management plants… [T]he St. Johns River, Southwest Florida and Suwannee River water management districts are fast establishing rules meant to protect and restore declining flows in hundreds of springs in their jurisdictions. But across the board, these minimum flow rules are too low to protect springs health. For this reason, the Florida Springs Council and other concerned non-governmental organizations are reviewing and challenging, if necessary, inadequate regulations as fast as they are promulgated… If our public servants want us to believe their propaganda, then let’s see long-term increases in spring flows, and long-term declines in aquifer/springs nitrate pollution.” Read Seeing healthy springs is believing

Stephen Luntz reports for IFL Science – “[N]ewly discovered 18th-century British Admiralty charts of Florida… show just how rich the coral once was off Florida’s coast. It appears human activity has been damaging reefs there for a very long time, and nobody knew until now… Co-author Professor John Pandolfi… noted that the work… reveals coral declines are greater than ever suspected. ‘We found that reef used to exist in areas that today are not even classified as reef habitat anymore,’ he said… Many of the reefs marked on the map are thought to have been destroyed either by construction work in the early 20th century or by the release of sediment when parts of the Everglades were drained. About a century after losing their last coral, the reefs eroded so much that no one knew they’d ever been there before.” Read 18th-Century Maps Reveal Florida’s Long Lost Coral Reefs

Damian Carrington reports for The Guardian – “Climate change could wipe out a third of all parasite species on Earth… Scientists warn that they… play a vital role in ecosystems. Major extinctions among parasites could lead to unpredictable invasions of surviving parasites into new areas, affecting wildlife and humans… [Parasites] provide up to 80% of the food web links in ecosystems… Having a wide range of parasites in an ecosystem also means they compete with one another, which can help slow down the spread of diseases.” Read Climate change could wipe out a third of parasite species, study finds

Whitney Webb writes for MintPress News – “Amid statewide efforts to clean up the aftermath left by the historic flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey, the Pentagon announced… that it had dispatched C-130H Sprayers from the Air Force Reserve’s 910th Airlift Wing in order to ‘assist with recovery efforts in eastern Texas.’… [T]hey are set to spray chemicals in order to help ‘control pest insect populations,’… [T]he particular chemical it is using… is likely to do more harm than good… [T]he insecticide Naled… is currently banned in the European Union due to the ‘unacceptable risk’ it presents to human health. Naled is a known neurotoxin in animals and humans… and has even been known to have caused paralysis. Mounting scientific evidence… has also pointed to Naled’s responsibility for the mass die-off of North American bees… Yet, the most concerning consequence Naled poses for human health is the chemical’s ability to cross the placental barrier – meaning that Naled freely crosses from mother to fetus… [T]he Air Force’s characterization of Naled as an ‘EPA approved and regulated material’ omits the important fact that the EPA is currently re-evaluating the chemical for safety… Scientists and concerned citizens have noted that Naled will likely be banned as the EPA found it to harm 22 out of 28 endangered species exposed to it.” Read U.S. Air Force is Spraying 6 Million Acres with Chemicals in Response to Harvey





From Our Readers

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Upcoming Environmental Events    

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

September 20, 7:00 pm – Attend the premiere of the “Hidden Secrets of Florida Springs” documentary in Winter Park. For tickets and 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).

September 26, 6:00 pm – Attend “Is Pensacola a Strong Town? – An Evening with Chuck Marohn” in Pensacola. Chuck will discuss how communities in northwest Florida can become more fiscally responsible, manage growth more responsibly and protect taxpayers from long-term expenses. For more information, and to register, click here.

October 7, 9:00 am – Attend the 2017 Everglades Symposium: Citizen Empowerment in Miami. For more information and to register, click here.

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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