FCC News Brief - September 27, 2017

Siddharth Narayan and Michael Beck write for The Conversation – “Using the (insurance) industry’s storm surge models, we compared the flooding and property damages that occurred… during Hurricane Sandy to the damages that would have occurred if… wetlands were lost… Our paper shows that during Hurricane Sandy…, coastal wetlands prevented more than US$625 million in direct property damages by buffering coasts against its storm surge… Wetlands reduce flood losses from storms every year, not just during single catastrophic events. We examined the effects of marshes across 2,000 storms in Barnegat Bay, New Jersey. These marshes reduced flood losses annually by an average of 16 percent, and up to 70 percent in some locations… Homeowners and municipalities could receive reductions on insurance premiums for managing wetlands. Post-storm spending should include more support for this natural infrastructure. And new financial tools such as resilience bonds, which incentivize investments in measures that reduce risk, could support wetland restoration efforts too… [O]ver the last six decades urban development has eliminated half of Florida’s historic mangrove habitat. Losses are still occurring across the state from the Keys to Tampa Bay and Miami.” Read As communities rebuild after hurricanes, study shows wetlands can significantly reduce property damage

John Davis reports for WGCU – “Governor Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet approved a work plan in June that prioritizes several projects aimed at buying, conserving and managing environmentally sensitive land in Southwest Florida. The five-year work plan includes adding more than 2,841 acres to the Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed project, or CREW… CREW is a partnership… to buy, preserve and maintain 60,000 acres of land important to the region’s water supply and imperiled wildlife… Plans for that property include restoring wetlands, and addressing harmful dumping of wastewater into the (Audubon Corkscrew Swamp) Sanctuary and other CREW preserve land… [T]he work plan also prioritizes an expansion of the Charlotte Harbor Flatwoods project to include Bear Branch and Hog Branch Creeks… A third priority project aims to purchase more than 4,500 hundred acres of Blackbeard’s Ranch in Manatee County which borders Myakka State Park… Cornell (of Audubon Florida) said these inland watershed management projects also have positive impacts further west. ‘The principle is you cannot protect or have good outcomes in the downstream estuaries or wetlands or habitats; Say Estero Bay or the Caloosahatchee River, or Sanibel,… Rookery Bay, any of these wonderful places that attract tourism and generate huge amounts of tourism dollars. None of this is possible unless you protect what is upstream.’” Read SW Florida Conservation Priorities a Sign of Life for ‘Florida Forever’

Andrew Ruiz reports for WPTV – “Aerial pictures… show the impact on the St. Lucie Estuary from recent Lake Okeechobee discharges… The pictures… show shades of dark, brown water. Ecosystems Restoration Management Manager Deb Drum said the turbid water can kill seagrass and oyster beds… In combination with warm water and high nutrients, freshwater releases could also make way for algae blooms.” Read Aerial pictures show impact of Lake Okeechobee discharges

Wyatt Bechtel reports for Cattle Network – “A Florida ranching icon and creator of the Bradford breed Alto ‘Bud’ Adams, Jr. passed away at his family ranch on Sept. 23, at 91 years old… Adams Ranch is 50,000 acres with land in St. Lucie, Madison, Okeechobee and Osceola counties and is the 16th largest cow-calf operation in the U.S… Bud was an avid wildlife photographer and conservationist… But was… named landowner of the year by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.” Read Florida Rancher, Bradford Breeder Alto ‘Bud’ Adams Passes Away at 91

Jim Ash reports for WFSU – “Big Bend environmentalists are sounding the alarm about a Mississippi company’s plans to drill for oil on 10 thousand acres in Calhoun County, about an hour west of Tallahassee. The Calhoun County Commission is expected Tuesday night to decide whether to grant Spooner Petroleum’s request for a zoning change.” Read Mississippi Oil Drillers Eying Calhoun County

Cassie Williams reports for CBC News – “Scientists are at a loss to explain one of the biggest mysteries surrounding the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale – why the animals are disappearing from their usual breeding grounds off the southeastern United States. Usually, right whales spend the winter in their breeding grounds off Florida and Georgia. Before 2011, more than 200 right whales were spotted in the area each year. In 2017, there were just seven… North Atlantic right whales have been in the spotlight this year after at least 14 were found dead off the East Coast of Canada and the U.S…. The birthrate of these creatures has dropped by 40 per cent from 2010 to 2016, and scientists don’t know why… [T]he low birthrate combined with high mortalities this year is a real concern for the species, which has only about 500 individuals left. The five calves born this year present another puzzle for scientists. They were all born to older mothers, raising the question: where are the first-time mothers?” Read Disappearance of right whales from winter breeding grounds a mystery for scientists

Liz Crawford and Garin Flowers report for WTSP – “Florida’s constitution is open to change in a rare citizen-based process this year… Average citizens can submit law proposals right now. So far, citizens have submitted more than 1,000 proposals. The Constitution Revision Commission decides which proposals will make the 2018 November ballot… Bill Schifino is one of the 37 members of the commission… When asked what Floridians care about, Schifino said, ‘A lot of different things, [the] environment’s a big one. You hear a lot of people that are passionate about the environment, education, another big one.’” Read Who’s behind Florida’s Constitution Revision Commission?

Carl Hiaasen writes for the Miami Herald – “The personal security staff of EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is three times larger than that of his predecessors… Even as Trump pushes to whack EPA’s budget by 31 percent, its Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurances is quietly seeking to waive the hiring freeze and add more bodyguards for Pruitt. His security squad has expanded so fast that the EPA has been using investigators who normally work on prosecuting environmental crimes… E&E News… obtained federal documents revealing that the EPA spent almost $833,000 on Pruitt’s protection detail during his first three months on the job. At that rate, taxpayers will be shelling out more than $3.3 million this year to guard a fellow that most Americans wouldn’t recognize… Undoubtedly the Koch brothers, petrochemical makers and, of course, the National Stripper Well Association would say that Scott Pruitt is worth every dollar spent guarding him. Maybe they could all chip in a few, to defray the cost. He is, after all, working for them.” Read We could guard Beyoncé for less than what it costs to protect EPA chief




From Our Readers

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Job Openings

Organizing Representative in Miami for Sierra Club Florida

Administrative Director for the Apalachicola Riverkeeper



Defend Attacks on the Marine Mammal Protection Act

Protect Florida’s Gulf Coast from Offshore Drilling

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

Tell Congress to Stop Sabal Trail

Stop New Phosphate Strip Mining in Florida

Ask County Commissions to Pass Bear-Friendly Trash Ordinances

Stop the Port Canaveral Rail Extension Project

Paynes Prairie in danger

Help Florida Become a “Pay for Shade” state


Upcoming Environmental Events    

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 $50. 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.

October 28, 11:30 am – Join the Silver Springs Alliance for a scavenger hunt as you paddle this iconic waterway in Silver Springs.  Channel the spirits of Florida's river past by dressing up in a costume that reflects Florida's cultural heritage: Spanish conquistadors, pioneers, steamboat travelers, or movie characters from the Spring's film legacy!  Be creative and win a prize in our costume contest! All ages are welcome! Proceeds from this event will support the Silver Springs Alliance’s efforts to protect Silver Springs and River. For more information and to register, click here.


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