FCC News Brief - September 22, 2017

The News Press Editorial Board writes – “The environment won… when Lee County commissioners approved acquiring Edison Farms for $42.4 million. This purchase, as part of the county’s 20/20 conservation program, is significant because of what it means for improving water quality, aquifer recharge and controlling flooding, which we know remains a significant issue for the county after Hurricane Irma’s impacts… [E]nvironmentalists… have trumpeted its value for many years… Taxpayers should be assured this purchase was a good use of their money at a time when many residents have complained about too much development, too much cement, too much brick and mortar, too much interference with the environment and the natural flow of things. The size of the property… also gives the county a nice environmental package with the Hidden Cypress Preserve, which is right next door, as well as lands maintained by the Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed... This purchase is exactly what the voters wanted to happen with the program, when they approved its continuation through referendum last year… The commissioners opened the door for such purchasing by allowing county staff to pursue land owners possibly interested in selling property to 20/20, rather than waiting for those owners to come to the county. The Conservation 20/20 program was a good investment when voters first approved it in 1996, and it remains that way today… Congratulations to the commissioners and the county for this purchase. Certainly a win for the environment and its future.” Read Edison Farms a wise environmental investment for Lee County

Bruce Ritchie reports for Politico Florida – “The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is requesting $50 million for land conservation in the fiscal year 2018-19 state budget… DEP had asked for $15.2 million per year in recent years… The Florida Forever land-buying program has been a priority for environmental groups for decades. Florida Forever and its predecessor received at least $300 million a year from 1990 to 2008 when the Legislature cut off funding… Aliki Moncrief of Florida Conservation Voters expressed appreciation to DEP but said the $50 million ‘isn’t nearly what voters expected’ when they approved Amendment 1 in 2014. ‘I hope the governor and Legislature take this recommendation as a starting point and commit to a comprehensive and dedicated funding stream for the remainder of the amendment,’ she said.” Read DEP seeks $50M for land conservation

Sam Ogozalek reports for the Naples Daily News – “Two Lee County officials who received $20,000 in campaign contributions from Miami-Dade County developers said those donations will not influence their vote on the group’s controversial housing project. The county commission on Wednesday will review a request by Pan Terra Holdings to build more than 1,4000 homes in a section of rural Lee County deemed critical to the region’s drinking water supply… Miami-Dade County real estate developer Carlos Lopez-Cantera St. is the father of Florida Lt. Gov. Carlos M. Lopez-Cantera… Pan Terra’s property is in what Lee County calls the Density Reduction/Groundwater Resource area. The DRGR includes wetlands and Florida panther habitat. The water there flows into Corkscrew Swamp, Halfway Creek, Spring Creek and the Estero River. Lee County has limited growth in the DRGR to protect shallow aquifers and public and agricultural water supplies. Pan Terra… has requested an amendment to the county’s comprehensive plan… to build 1,460 homes… Pan Terra also wants to rezone the property… The LPA has recommended approval.” Read Estero project’s Miami developer donated to Lee commissioner’s campaigns

Ron Littlepage writes for The Florida Times Union – “Creating a vision is easy and often fun. Turning that vision into reality can be damn hard. A case in point is the Emerald Necklace, the long talked about and dreamed of string of parks, waterways and greenways that would loop Downtown and tie the surrounding neighborhoods to each other, to the core city and to the St. Johns River… Many,… including long-time residents, know little about the Emerald Necklace or are even aware of the existence of three key elements vital to it – McCoys Creek, Hogans Creek and the S-Line Trail… In 1929, [Hogan’s] creek was channelized, and two basins were created to retain water during flooding… With it came a masterpiece of ornamental balustrades, foot bridges and promenades that ran along Hogans Creek from Downtown to Springfield… The creek became highly contaminated with industrial wastes and fecal coliform. Signs warn against fishing. The balustrades and footbridges were allowed to fall into disrepair. Buildings were plopped down in parts of the park. Asphalt walkways were put in the strangest places. But it remains a magnificent piece of city-owned parkland that once again can become a masterpiece with effort and care… If McCoys Creek is to become a shining part of the Emerald Necklace, infrastructure changes will have to be made to stop the deluge of rubbish.” Read Uncovering the Emerald Necklace

Chris Hand writes for The Florida Times Union – “As Jacksonville works through post-hurricane restoration and begins to focus on lessons learned from Irma, it’s now time to start discussing how to best protect the city center and surrounding neighborhoods from rising waters. Such discussions will help to reassure existing and potential urban core businesses and residents that keeping Downtown dry for revitalization is a priority… [G]reen spaces… provide permeable surfaces that can absorb water and serve as a buffer against flooding… [T]he post-Irma period should invite an examination of whether Downtown revitalization plans contain enough park land and if we need more green space elsewhere along the St. Johns River and its tributaries.” Read Irma offers an opportunity to create a more resilient Downtown

Mitch Perry reports for Florida Politics – “Hurricane Irma caused massive sewage overflows in Florida, prompting an environmental group to call on local communities to improve infrastructure to prevent that from happening again when the next big storm hits. ‘Hurricanes are a fact of life in Florida, but sewage in our streets and bays shouldn’t be,’ said Jennifer Rubiello, state director of Environment Florida. ‘As these storms get more severe and frequent, we have to be ready for some pretty challenging conditions. We’re not ready now.’… ‘Sewage isn’t just disgusting. It’s also a health hazard…,’ Rubiello said… Environment Florida is calling on lawmakers to update leaky pipes and ensure that pumping stations have access to power, as well as implement low-tech solutions to minimize future spills such as… installing rain barrels and restoring wetlands.” Read Florida needs to improve sewage systems, enviro group says

The Associated Press reports – “An endangered Florida panther was struck and killed by a vehicle… It’s the 18th fatal collision this year, out of 23 total panther deaths.” Read Florida panther killed by vehicle; 23rd death this year

The Sun Sentinel Editorial Board writes – “Climate change is a reality. That human activity is fueling it is reality. The consequences, like hurricanes Harvey and Irma, are reality… The governor… consistently refuses to address global warming. Instead, he says he wants to focus on beach renourishment and flood mitigation. Yes, flooding and erosion must be addressed, but let’s also address the problem at its source. Scott’s commanding presence in the Irma crisis does not excuse him from dismissing the worst threat to Florida’s future. If he runs for the U.S. Senate next year as expected, it will be a clear and significant difference between he and Sen. Bill Nelson… [T]he president has been waging war on science with a ferocity not seen since Galileo was forced on pain of death to deny that the earth orbits the sun…. Sarah Huckabee Sanders… wrote on Twitter that Trump is firm on withdrawing (from the Paris Agreement) ‘unless we get pro-America terms.’ That is unreal. A heroic agreement reached among virtually all the world’s nations cannot – and should not – be renegotiated to suit the late-blooming domestic political agenda of any one of them. It is a practical impossibility as well as a moral outrage… Many Americans wonder how so many of the nation’s founders and other otherwise decent people were able to rationalize slavery… Today, the same profit motive underlies the great immorality of climate science denial. Two centuries from now, in a world made more inhospitable to life as we know it, surviving people will again wonder, ‘How could they?’” Read Continued denial leaves Florida in climate change crosshairs




From Our Readers

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Upcoming Environmental Events    


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.

September 29, 2:00 pm Attend or view a live stream of FSU’s Environmental College of Law Fall 2017 Environmental Forum: “The Psychology of Climate Change: Why do People Believe What they Believe?” For more information, click here.

October 3, 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. October’s lecture is a Springs Overview – Past, Present, and Future with FSI Executive Director, Dr. Robert Knight. All lectures are free and open to the public. A recommended donation of $5 is appreciated. For more information, click here or call (386) 454- 2427.

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.

October 19, 6:30 pm – Attend “Natural Treasures of the Florida Panhandle,” a presentation by Bruce Means, Coastal Plains Institute, at The King Life Sciences Building, FSU, in Tallahassee.


Do you know of an upcoming environmental event or meeting you would like to include in the FCC News Brief? Send us a quick e-mail and we will include it for you.


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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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